The Korean peninsula is home to a people who share the same language and ethnicity but are divided in two. The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a buffer zone, which was established on July 27, 1953 when the Armistice Agreement was signed during the Korean War. The DMZ vividly captures the scars and wounds of the Korean War as well as the wishes and hopes for the future.
This was third time to in Seoul. I had heard of this tour and was suprised to know that none of my Korean friends had been there! I found out that only if you are not a Korean can you go there.
I was staying at the Mariott Seoul, our hotel was situated in the “Gangam” district. The Gangam district is one of the posh places in Seoul. ( Oppa Gangam Style? That means older brother who has a posh style!)
The concierge arranged for the guided tour to the DMZ for us.
It was fairly a hot day so I wore a comfortable wrap around from Sarojini with a crop top with my favourite haviannas. The pickup arrived and our driver/ tour guide who filled us in with a lot of facts about the current and past situation between these two countries. He told us that the mindset is of this generation drastically differs from the previous generations. He said, “People from the previous generation still have links and a soft heart towards the North Koreans and are keen on working the relations between these two countries. The younger people have less emotional connect to the North Koreans. They think it is an undue economic stress on them!”
The drive from the Gangam area to the DMZ is about an hour. The drive takes you from the busiest area in Seoul to the calmer side of the town surrounded by lakes and mountains. The tour is divided in four parts and starts with you getting a pass for which you require your passport. While our guide was working on passes we had some buffer time to eat some local food in the restaurants. It was fun which seemed like a bit of an irony because we were in facr in the world’s highest militarized zone.
Our first stop was at the Imjingank Resort (Nuri Peace Park), exhibiting various relics and monuments related to the Korean War. After watching the documentary about DMZ and visiting the museum we really could feel the place. The sadness had seeped to my bones.
There were real military men guarding the place often bothered by visitors like me for an occasional picture. They still stand stern and alert I wonder how do they do that in the middle of the place which can have upto 20,000 tourists at one time.
Our next stop was the Third Tunnel, which was dug by the Northern Army to spy on their Southern counterparts. This drafty place makes one uncomfortable with the thought that how real is the confrontation. As it is a long walk inside the tunnel we have to secure our heads with helmets. I was really tired uphill with my knee being weak after the Meniscus repair. The girls were very kind to slow down wirh ne. Our tour guide didn’t come inside the tunnel. I wonder now if he was escaping the pain of seeing the enemy’s constant invasion to his homeland.
We soon came to our third stop is the Unification Hill, the hill overseeing the northern part and you can see the North Korean Flag and with the help of the telescope you can spot the North Korean farmers working peacefully in their field along the ceasefire line.
There were houses on this side as well which belonged to the farmers here and they sell their goods at the shop in DMZ.
After a beautiful day spend at the DMZ we were on our way back. This time we wound each other up with heated political point of views and the discussions. After a quick halt at a Jade stone factory we were at the Hotel. It was a day I would never forget.