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Old 10-02-2005, 04:44 AM   #1
Christophe
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DMZ (De-Militarised Zone) - North Korea / South Korea

On the occasion of a trip to South Korea this month, I plan to pay a visit to the DMZ, the De-Militarised Zone (DMZ) between the two Korea.

Have some of you already been there ?

What did you visit ? : Panmunjeom villages, tunnels, etc...

What Tour Operators do you recommand ? There are some mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide... Any suggestions ?

Many thanks in advance.

Cheers.

Ch.
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Old 10-09-2005, 11:55 AM   #2
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Christophe,

I visited the DMZ, Panmunjom and the tunnels in 1985 as a guest of the US Army there. At the time, it was next to impossible to enter the DMZ any other way.
As far as I know (I was in Korea last in 2001), it is still very difficult to enter the DMZ; you can travel to the edge of it, but that's about as far as you'll go by yourself. I know that some organizations in Seoul offer a tour there, but I do not have any details about that. I believe you can find more information once there if you go to some major hotels such as the Lotte Hotel, but do it as soon as you arrive as it may take some time for processing and clearance.

Marc
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Old 10-10-2005, 03:55 PM   #3
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Marc,

Thanks for your comments. As soon as I come back, I will post some pics. My trip is now organised. I will let you know what I have seen.

Cheers.

Ch.
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Old 10-11-2005, 12:14 AM   #4
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Christophe,

Have a great trip!

Look forward to seeing some interesting photos when you return!

- Sean
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:16 PM   #5
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Here are a few pics of my recent trip in the DMZ.

The Demilitarized Zone (or DMZ) in Korea is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an acute angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying South of the parallel and the East end lying north of it. It is 248 km long and approximately 4 km wide. (See map below).

Korea is in fact the only divided country in the world. After the Korean War (25 June 1950 - Armistice of 27 July 1953), South Korea and North Korea negotiated and then designated the DMZ 2km away from the truce line on each side of the border. DMZ is one of the last relics of the Cold War. Nowadays, DMZ tourist sites have been implemanted for both Koreans and foreign "tourists".

Ch.

Pic : Wikipedia.
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Old 01-13-2006, 05:18 PM   #6
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Because I did my trip a Sunday (no other choice...) I did not have the opportunity to visit the famous village of Panmunjeom.
Panmunjeom is located in the Joint Security Area, which is in the DMZ, 50 km north from Seoul and 10 km east from the city of Gaeseong. The place is well-known for the peace talks that were held here on 25 October 1951 and was designated as the Joint Security Area on 27 July 27 1953 when the armistice agreement was signed.
Panmunjeom is used as a conference center since the Red Cross held an international conference here on 20 September 1971. It is the only place where North Koreans and South Koreans can come in contact on a daily basis and make efforts towards the peace of Korea.
I'll post later pics of the model of the site.

Imjingak, is located 7 km from the Military Demarcation Line. It is possible to visit it without going through any security check points, so it is a popular site for tourists, Koreans or foreigners.

Picture #1 Here is the Freedom Bridge, the South Koreans war prisoners crossed when they came back to their mother country from North Korea. It stands behind Mangbaedan, the place where people who left North Korea visit and perform ancestral rites for reunifying families.
Picture #2 Plaque celebrating the re-opening (under conditions) in 2000 of the bridge, to circulation of trains that bring food and goods from the South to the North (aid program).
Picture #3 Bridge of Freedom with remembrances of divided Korean families.
Picture #4 Freedom Bridge.
Picture #5 Freedom Bridge.
Picture #6 Actual Freedom bridge, with, on the right, what remains of the former bridge across the Imjin river.
Picture #7 Close to Freedom Bridge, the beginning of the DMZ. In fact, such fences are quite usual all the long of the road from Seoul to the North, and specifically along the river Hangang.
Picture #8 Hey, hey!! I'm here!!

Ch.

Pics : © Christophe – ChR Collection
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Old 01-15-2006, 08:02 AM   #7
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Nice pictures! Thank you for sharing them!
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Old 01-15-2006, 10:37 AM   #8
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Thanks Esteban, there are more to come!!!

Cheers.

Ch.
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Old 01-16-2006, 07:55 PM   #9
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Christophe,

Hey, these are some cool pictures.
It's interesting to see parts of the DMZ from a "local visitor" perspective rather than via the media. I hope you get a chance to post some more!

- Sean

P.S. Was there any aspect or feature of the DMZ area that surprised you or that you really took note of?
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Old 01-19-2006, 02:45 PM   #10
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Hi Sean,

Thanks for the comment.
There are more pics to come...

In fact I have not been really "surprised" by what I saw, as I had documented myself quite extensively before the trip. What surprised me the most is probably people attitudes (or contradictions...). I will come back later on this, as comments with some pics.

The Gyeongeuy-line railway Munsan - Gaesong interconnection project.

In fact, seen from the South, everything is ready for the reunification. This line goes from Seoul to Pyongyang and is ready in its South part. A brand new train station is operational at Dorasan, the last stop before the demarcation line. I'll post photos of it later.

You can clearly see where the DMZ is : the black line between the two lines of barbed-wires.

It is here that the dispersed family members who left their hometown in North Korea are praying for re-unification.

Now, you take a special bus, which is mandatory to enter the DMZ, as private cars are not authorized. Your passport (you have registered yourself several days in advance) is controlled at a checkpoint, and you are not any more allowed to take pictures, except in the points where it is mentioned as allowed. In the bus is a "commentator / tour operator" who describes what you see in a very "propaganda style" manner . This "commentator" is also there for checking you respect regulations : no photos, yellow lines not to cross...

You enter the DMZ through a network of checkoints, chicanes, barbed wires fences... and firstly cross a bridge in slaloming between chicanes.
After this first "test", the road to follow will be more straight : you just follow the road... sometimes between very close mined areas (explicit labels along the road).

The pic taken here shows a defense obstacle. You see them just at the fringe of the DMZ, before entering it.

A kind of huge concrete bridge full of all types material (explosives, stones, concrete... what I have been said) in its upper part. If the North troups are on the way, the South has just the time to make it "open" and dump its content on the road, blocking it!! I have seen several of these bridges...

Sorry for the quality of the pic... but it is a "stolen" one.

This tunnel was discovered on 17 October 1978. It is located 52km from Seoul.

South Korea has in total discovered 4 tunnels leading from the North to the South. They are named according to the order they were found.
The 3rd tunnel is the closest to Seoul leading South Koreans think it was built for the purpose of invading Seoul. Approximately 10,000 soldiers can move through this tunnel in one hour.

Photos were allowed only at the parking lot of the 3rd tunnel. Entering the tunnel, pictures were forbidden.

Here is the entrance of the 3rd tunnel. On the pic, the entrance is in green, where the tunnel begins going under.

The entrance seen from the parking lot.
The building of the previous pic is on the right. The entrance of the "green "tunnel" is clearly visible, going underground... just behind the soft drinks machines .

It is possible entering either by foot (what I did, with a safety helmet), or by taking a small monorail down to about the middle of the tunnel. By foot you can walk until the frontier (demarcation line) which is sealed, and permanently guarded.

Monument for the unification of Korea (site of the 3rd Tunnel).

This Observatory is located nearby the 3rd Tunnel.
It is the place where you can see the most possible of North Korea.
From this observation platform, North Korean military personnel are visible, and so are the city of Gaeseong (now a free economic zone) and the Geumgangsan Diamond Mountains. The two civilian villages at Panmunjeom are clearly visible, as are the two giant flag poles.

Inside is a big animated map of the area, and you have to follow a briefing of the South Korea Army.

Outside, with goggles for more details, you can see North Korea. You can see the goggles platform on the left of the pic.

View from the Mt Dora Observatory.

From left to right :
* Gaesong economic free zone (extreme left), where intensive building works of new factories currently take place. Located in North Korea, but financed by the South.
* Demarcation Line.
* North Korean "Propaganda Village" of Kijong-Dong, with its 160m high flagpole bearing the North Korean flag.
* South Korean "Freedom Village" of Taesong-Dong, with its 100m high flagpole.

From this pic, all these are not so evident to see. But in real, you see them quite well. I even saw farmers in North Korean fields.
I'll post more detailed pics later.

Ch.
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