Monday, June 3, 2013

The Day I Went to the DMZ

My darling friend, Brigitte, and I decided to go on a day trip to two of the DMZ areas. We went with WinK (a travel group for people in Korea, mostly foreigners..which I have been on 2 previous trips with). I have heard from many people that the USO trip is the way to go because you see more or do more or something. No one ever actually gives a reason, they just say "Oh I heard you should go through USO." That combined with the average feedback of people who have been to the DMZ being "It was pretty cool I guess" made my expectations not that high. Really, I thought I should just go because I'm here and that's something foreigners could do. Therefore, I signed up, made Brig go with me, and began yet another weekend morning at 5 something in the morning to go on an adventure.

We rode the subway, rode the bus (only about 40 minutes) and arrived at the first destination. We saw an old bullet shot train from the war. We saw the peace bridge. And some colorful hope ribbons.
Train with bullet holes all up in it.

Peace Bridge

Peace ribbons...surrounded by barbed wire. 

Same area, different place, we went to the tunnel after first watching an informative video about North Korea. Which reminds me! Our WinK leader filled the first 40 minute bus ride with a ton of interesting information about the history of North and South Korea and their interactions. I learned quite a lot. And it was interesting to hear a Koreans opinion about what was recently "going on" with North Korea. His thoughts on the matter were that in Korean news, they get updates on the happenings of North Korea every day. Whereas the US hears nothing and then CNN blows stuff out of the war. Good ole whats-his-face always using the words "imminent war" whenever he can to freak the living daylights out of Americans. I also learned how strong of a hold Japan had on Korea and I learned about the Chinese involvement. It was pretty cool. I feel like I got Korean history 101 in a short 40 minute bus ride.

Anyways. Then we went into the tunnel. We had to wear helmets. First we walked down a fairly steep incline for about 10 minutes. Then we got to the real tunnel that the N. Koreans had built to try and attack Seoul. 4 have been found, we explored 2 of them. We walked down it a ways. At the end, there was a big metal door. Then we turned around and walked back. The incline back up was a bit steep and my calves are sore today to say the least. The cool thing about these tunnels that I learned is that their built from low to high, lowest in the North and highest in the South so that the flow of the water would be in the opposite direction. Fascinating right? They definitely thought ahead on that so they wouldn't end up with a huge puddle when the got to Seoul. The interesting thing that I kept imagining was how they would get so many soldiers through that tunnel. If you want to have an attack on someone, another country, for example, you're gunna need a lot of soldiers. However we were walking in a single file line, all hunched over so as not to hit our heads (even though we still did, good thing for those helmets!) and when people passed us going the other direction, we had to slow down and slide by one another. Imagine hundreds of soldiers trying to get through these tunnels...quite curious if you ask me.

Then we went to an observation tower. That was cool. We got to take pictures with the soldiers (South Korean, that is) and look through the telescopes. This is the part I totally nerded out on. I was like SO stoked to see North Korea. I actually saw a village with people walking through it (like 2 people) and 1 person on a bike. Saw some North Korean towers. I was soooo stoked. And saw the area where South Koreans go to work. I forget what that place is called. But I'm sure most of you know what I'm talking about. They had a yellow line painted on the floor and you couldn't take pictures beyond it for the private-ness of the military things or whatever. So this is the best picture I got of N. Korea:
This is from the first observation deck. Those mountains are in North Korea. 

This is from the second observation deck, and those mountains are also in North Korea. 
Our new bestie!

Then we were off for some lunch. Turns out the place we were having lunch is the same place I'll be going rafting and bungee jumping next weekend. Cool!

After lunch we headed to the second area. It was another tunnel. This time with stairs and this time we could take pictures of the helmets! We still weren't supposed to take pictures inside, however I know a few people got some pics so maybe you'll get to see that on FB or something later.

After that we went to this other observation deck and then ended the day with some White Horse Hill Battle monuments. White Horse Hill was when a lot (can't remember how many) bombs were dropped on a mountain and it took the top layer of the earth off (about a meter deep) leaving white sand in the shape of a horse. Hence it's name. The significance of this hill is that to the south of it is really rich soil for growing rice. We all know how the people in N. Korea are kinda starving so this was a very important piece of land for them, and before all the wars started and such, it used to be theirs. S. Korea won it, however, by 3 men running into N. Korean barracks with hand granades, thus ending the sitch. They did this because both N. Korean and S. Korean troops ran out of amo and were now using hand to hand combat. Those 3 men are the heros of this battle and there is a sculpture made of them with the left over bullet shells from the battle. COOL!
 After this we were all exhausted and ready to go home, so home we did go.

Two things I forgot. We also visited the last train station before the train goes to N. Korea:

AND every video we watched (there were 3 I think) was all about how they want North Korea and South Korea to be one nation. Their goal is to tie things together again. How presh. Oh, and they're like all about the wildlife. Which I think is kinda funny. AND something that Brigitte pointed out is that it's very strange that some of the active military people act as tour guides. Imagine getting your assignment and it says "You're going to the pass out helmets to visitors." Bummer. Or awesome. I also learned that the Korean military make 120,000 won a month for being in the military. People, that's like 120 bucks. Crazy. To the right is the military guy who was our tour guide and told us how much he makes.

Anyways I think that's about all the information I have for you on the DMZ. Met a couple new people. This lady carried her dog in a child satchel for much of the trip because it had life threatening surgery (she talked about it with EVERYONE). And I learned a lot and was super pumped about the things I did and got to see. YAY adventure weekends! Stay tuned for 2 weeks from now for my post bungee/river rafting/river trekking/zip lining adventure!

This tank was cool. 

Look I'm at the DMZ!

1 comment:

  1. Even though your mother told you to avoid the DMZ I have to admit this is pretty cool. Your stay in Korea probably wouldn't be the same without a trip to the DMZ and learning some Korean History. One of the advantages to going on guided tours. You learn a thing or two.