Sunday, February 19, 2017
Korea and the DMZ
7 of us hired a guide from Guides By Locals to take us to the DMZ today. The ship offered a tour yesterday not today. Too bad - they could have squeezed more revenue out of the passengers since their tour yesterday cost $150 per person. Ours was 1/3 the price. So there, HAL. Neener Nanner.
It was about a 90 minute drive out to the area from the ship. As we reached the Imjin River we began to notice guard towers and barbed wire fencing along the highway. It's designed to prohibit North Koreans from crossing the river and entering South Korea. Not so much citizens of North Korea but soldiers for the purposes of invading the country. Our guide, Kevin, indicated that only about 10 citizens make it successfully to the South Korean border each year, and are rewarded for their perilous journey by being granted asylum.
To get admittance into the DMZ our vehicle had to stop at a military checkpoint at which point a soldier came on board and checked everyone's passports.
Once in and cleared, we drove for a short distance to one of the 4 tunnels that the North Koreans had attempted to build underground back in the 1970's. Their purpose was to build tunnels towards Seoul so that they could pass soldiers through them under and past the border to attack South Korea and cause panic and mayhem. FAIL. All four tunnels were discovered and shut down.
We toured one of the tunnels today. It was kind of eerie.
After the tunnel we visited several other sites in the area including a now defunct train station where you once could take a train to North Korea. I've got a picture here.
The day was cold cold cold. And dreary. Kind of fitting for where we were. I've included a picture of Kirk in his "terrorist" garb. It was that cold. In fact, when we're were visiting the bridge (to nowhere) and looking at the colorful freedom ribbons the water in the ponds below us was frozen over.
I've got a selfie picture here that shows North Korea territory behind me. And of course Snort was awed by the whole place as well.
After leaving the DMZ we headed back towards Seoul and stopped off on the way for lunch. Another great local Korean place and food. Most of us had the vegetarian version today and it was yummy in my tummy! More kimchi! And Korean beer!
Finally, a couple of pictures of the bathroom at the train station. So pretty. Every stall had a framed picture on the door. And soft music was playing. The sinks had really cool soap too. Blue round tune like things on a curved rack. Wild!