A Travellerspoint blog

Going under the DMZ

Incursion tunnels

-17 °C

Discovered Underground Tunnels

DMZ.png
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Demilitarized_Zone

The next day along the DMZ we learn that theres an under world of tunnels dug up my the North Koreans. We where all suprised to hear about this news about an under ground walkway to South Korea planned for military attacks if needed. The South discovered (four tunnels leading under the DMZ)1. The first of the tunnels was discovered by a South Korean Army patrol, noticing steam rising from the ground. The initial discovery was met with machine gun fire from North Korean soldiers. Five days later, during a subsequent exploration of this tunnel, U.S. Navy Commander Robert M. Ballinger and ROK Marine Corps Major Kim Hah Chul were killed in an explosion triggered from North Korea.The second was discovered on March 19, 1975. The third tunnel was discovered on October 17, 1978. A fourth tunnel was discovered on March 3, 1990. It is almost identical in structure to the second and the third tunnels.

Map of Tunnel #3
tunnels.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Third_Tunnel_Picture.JPG

The (third tunnel is what we actually visited)2 and the admission is free. Photos are forbidden within the tunnel, which is now well guarded. Individuals may not visit the tunnels by themselves. All visitors must belong to an organized tour. Many tour companies offer tours, but not all include visits to the JSA or the Third Tunnel of Aggression. Luckly we where prepared and apart of tour and had no proplems checking out these venues.

Third Tunnel
tunnel2.jpg
http://www.lifeinkorea.com/Images/Kyonggi/dmz013.jpg

Posted by korea1 18:34 Comments (1)

Off to the DMZ

De-militarized Zone

-17 °C

Map of Korean De-militarized Zone

DMZ2.gif
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Demilitarized_Zone

Its Week three here in Korea for us and where having a blast! Today
we are going along the The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land
running across the KoreanPeninsula that serves as a buffer zone between the
nations of North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in
half, by the 38th parallel.

The main attraction of Korea's De-militarized Zone is that its (248 km long and
approximately 4 km wide)2
which literaly cuts the Korean Peninsula in half,
and is the most heavily armed border in the world.

North Korean Guard
GUARD.jpg
http://www.imjinscout.com/Kirk_Article.html

The 4 Km buffer zone between the two nations is the (most hevily guarded and armed piece of land in the world.)2 It consists of electrical fences and mines swampy waters and about 1million soilders guarding the De-militarized Zone on each side of the boarder. Wow it was really amazing to see and sad to know that the two korean nations who are very much alike cant get along.

Posted by korea1 18:33 Comments (0)

Another day in Panmunjeom

-17 °C

Freedom House
Freedom_House.jpg
http://www.lifeinkorea.com/culture/dmz/dmz.cfm?Subject=jsa

This moring we worke up to some wonderful traditional Korean Tea known
as song- hwa-misu which is make of pine pollen and honey and usually known
as summer tea. This local drink brings energy and good health when its drank,
which where going to need since its going to be a long day!

Near Panmunjeom in the Joint Security Area we are going to visit the famous
Freedom House. It was originally built in 1965, and then reconstructing the
new Freedom House was finished on July 9, 1998. (We learned that the Freedom House provides facilities for North-South contacts)1, meetings and exchanges,and houses the Liaison Office with North and South Korea. All that fun stuff you see on James Bond.

prop_village.jpg
http://www.panmunjomtour.com/english/jsa/jsa_16.htm

Not far from Panmunjeom lies Kijong-dong propaganda village, was built specially in the North area of DMZ for the purpose of propaganda. There are no residents except soldiers. One fasinating fact we learned was that its the home to the (world’s highest flag tower)2 where North Korea’s national flag is hanging and stands in the entrance of the village.

flag_pole.jpg
http://images.google.ca/images?q=tallest+flag+pole&um=1&hl=en&start=18&sa=N&ndsp=18

Posted by korea1 18:32 Comments (0)

Arriving in Panmunjeom

-17 °C

Panmunjeom or The Joint Security Area (JSA)
Panmunjeom.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Security_Area

Today we headed to Panmunjeom aka the Joint Sercurity Area by motor coach
from Seoul. The ride wasn't that far really and we expected to be held up in traffic since its so close to Seul. Panmujeom, which is really a village split between both North and South Korea along the De-militarized Zone between the two nations.

The main attaction in Panmujeom village is that its the only portion of the
Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where South and North Korean forces stand
(face-to-face.)1

Panmunjeom is the site of the negotiations that ended the Korean War and
is the main centre of human activity in the DMZ. A great attraction in The Joint security Area are the (buildings where diplomatic talks are still being caried out today)2. The village is located on the main highway and railway line that serves both North and South Korea. The highway is used on rare occasions to move people between the two countries, and to bring supplies to South Korean factories located in North Korea much like Checkpoint Charlie in East and West Berlin. When South Korean military personel are in the JSA buildings and are closing the doors that are on the North korean side they have a buddy team system of closing the doors. One personel closes the door and somone else holds onto his belt in one hand and the wall they other. This prevents North Korean troops from pulling South Koreans into the North and so this is a two man operation.

Panmunjeom2.jpg
http://www.lifeinkorea.com/culture/dmz/dmz.cfm?Subject=jsa

We are bushed from all this military talk and where calling it a day. We felt a little
erie being so close to the North Korean boarder but we where all safe by UN and
joint US officers.

Posted by korea1 18:29 Comments (0)

Shopping + Food = the best day ever!

Hello everyone, it’s our fifth day in Seoul and we are both very much in love with the city. Today we hung out with a few locals that we met over the last few days and they taught us the basic words of the Korean language. We had a hard time communicating with the locals and it’s about time we learn the language, after all were here for three more weeks. Here are some of the phrases we learned and on the plus side they showed us how to write it too:

[*]얼마예요? Eol-ma ye-yo How much is it?
비싸요. Bi-ssa-yo It is expensive.
좀 깎아주세요. Jom ggak-a-ju-se-yo Give me a discount, please.
좀 입어봐도(신어봐도) 될까요? Jom ibeo-bado doel-ka-yo? Can I try it on?

옷 Ot Clothes 티셔츠 T-sheo-cheu T-Shirt
바지 Ba-ji Pants 신발 Shin-bal Shoes
치마 Chi-ma Skirt 영수증 Yeong-su-jeung Receipt
[*]

The Korean language we both found very difficult to learn. They took us to a local store were we purchased our own Korean dictionary. So this will help us out a lot.

After all the learning we were so hungry so they took us to a restaurant. We were at Myeongdong also known as A Favourite Street of Gourmet Restaurants were everyone recommended the following “seven best” restaurants. It was so hard to choose which one to eat at because each one had tasty looking food. We finally chose the Gogung! The restaurant was known for its steamed rice with assorted beef and vegetables. The inside of the restaurant was beautiful. It was decorated with the traditional, hand-made paper and servers were dressed in the traditional Korean clothing.

restaurant.jpgfood.jpg
Picture taken from http://english.tour2korea.com

TIP: To mix the “bibimbap”, use chopsticks rather than a spoon because it helps maintain the shape and texture of all the fresh ingredients.

o_sulloc_teahouse.jpgice_cream.jpg
Picture taken from http://english.tour2korea.com

Of course a meal was not complete without dessert! O’sulloc Teahouse was one of the wonderful desserts shop along Myeongdong. At this dessert house they serve tea as well as desserts such as the green tea cake, which we LOVED very much! Among other popular desserts being served were the famous green tea ice cream and green tea tiramisu.

We were both so full that all we wanted to do was sleep but it was only half the day! Our Korean friends insisted on taking us to the Gyeongbokgung Palace and it was offer we couldn’t refuse!

The Gyeongbokgung Palace was beautiful! Established in 1395 is also known as the “Northern Palace” because it was located more toward the north.(1) The palace was destroyed by a fire during the Japanese Invasion of Korea (1592-1598) but the palace was later restored under the leadership of Heungseondaewongun. The admission fee to get in was 3,000 won per person. I recommended going in 20+ groups because you get half the price compared to an individual. Tour guides are free and there are English, Japanese and Chinese tour guides so that made us really happy!(2)

kyungbokgung.jpg
Picture taken from http://english.tour2korea.com

To end the day off, our Korean friends took us shopping to the Myeong-Dong also known as A Mecca for Shoppers. I felt like I was in heaven! All the shops were distance walking from each other and whether you were looking for accessories, athletic wear, shoes, boots, or a number of other mid to high priced items, you will find it all here.

roots.jpglv.jpg
Picture taken from http://english.tour2korea.com

Some of the international brands they had included:
PUMA
American Apparel
GAP
Roots.
The prices were actually pretty decent and I found it a lot cheaper here than Canada/US. We were both extremely tired by end of the day.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Posted by korea1 16:53 Comments (0)

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