A few weeks back (October 27) we went to the DMZ (demilitarized zone). It was a really interesting trip, and even after having crossed into North Korea itself on another tour the subsequent weekend, I'd still say that it was a worthwhile trip, since we were able to visit the JSA (joint security area) and learn about some Korean history. We've got lots of pictures here. But for those of you who are too lazy (you know who you are!!!), I'll post a selection of them here.
The blue buildings are the UN negotiation rooms and they actually straddle the border between the South and the North. You can see a horizontal line just beyond the middle ROK's (Republic of Korea soldier) head. That raised concrete is the actual border between the South and North. The two ROKs on the sides are half behind the buildings for cover if the North decides to do a little target practice and I guess the guy in the middle is just out of luck and has to take one for the team.
Vanessa, Becky, myself and Jen standing next to a ROK in one of the UN negotiation rooms. We're actually in North Korea in this photo! This guy's standing guard (see the door behind us?) so that soldiers from the North don't storm the room and kidnap any tourists.
A view of check point 3 (which is no longer in use) from check point 4. This is where the Axe Murder took place in 1976 (2 US soldiers and 1 Korean national were killed) when the UN tried to cut down a poplar tree that was obstructing view between CP 3 and CP 4, where we are standing. If you look closely at the very lower left of this photo, you can see the stump to the said poplar.
Also, to the right of the CP 3 in this photo is the Bridge of No Return, where Koreans at some point had to choose on which side they wanted to reside (decision was final - no further border crossing was allowed, hence the name).
Gijeong-dong in North Korea, a propaganda village. It used to broadcast propaganda messages over a loudspeaker system telling everyone in the South how great the North was. It no longer broadcasts. Also, the village is not populated.
The flag pole is supposedly the tallest in the world at 160 meters, and the flag is so gi-normous that it's dry weight is 600 pounds!!!
Yeah, so lots of neat stuff. Go check out the rest of the photos. We had an awesome time and if any of you ever make your way to our neighbourhood, we'll take you for a look-see. How many times in your life are you going to get to visit a demilitarized zone where there are thousands of armed soldiers all around you ready and waiting to fight? Ok, it sounds more dangerous than it really was... though, we did have to sign a waiver saying that our tour operator (USO - United States Overseas) could not guarantee our safety and that we understood that we could be killed on this tour. Hmmm....