To North Korea and back

Last weekend Andrew, Mandi, Madri, Peter, and I took the USO tour to see the DMZ. This was on my list of things to do while in South Korea and I am so glad we did it! The tour and tour guides were great and being there was really, really cool.

Nifty USO badge for the DMZ tour

We met with a bunch of other tourists at the USO office near the American army base Yongsan and were given these nifty badges to keep track of us before boarding the bus.

The bus ride to the DMZ

The bus ride was about an hour and a half and there was some pretty awesome scenery along the way.

Giant DMZ sign

When we got there we had an opportunity to pose with the DMZ sign. (This is not the actual DMZ but at a museum)

Standing on North Korea

And visit the museum where we stood on top of North Korea via a cool display that was under the walkway of glass.

Wonderful movie about wonderful South Korea

We then headed in to watch a movie about events that happened at the DMZ and events that lead up to the creation. Definitely one-sided, but very interesting.

North Korea in the distance

We were then taken to an area where we could look out over the border to North Korea. You can see the cities in the distance, but it was really overcast.

Train track to North Korea

We were also taken to the area where the subway train travels to North Korea. It no longer runs, but we were able to buy a ticket for 500 won and play on the tracks.

South Korea soldiers staring toward North Korea

After this we were taken to the actual DMZ where the tour was turned over to the US Army. Our tour guide was a PFC from NY who had been stationed there for just over a year (I am nosy and ask lots of questions!)

North Koreans staring back

While there we were led to the area where the North and South Koreans and The JSA meet to discuss stuff. It falls directly on the dividing line. We stood for a while and watched the North and South Korea soldiers stare at each other.

If you look closely at the pic of the North Koreans staring back (pic on the left) you can see the guard on duty staring at us and the cameras in the windows next to him recording us. The soldier kept moving to the side and hiding behind the pillar, it was weird. The whole experience was surreal and kind of scary. Just knowing we were standing at an area where if one person did the wrong thing it could immediately bring on an international incident. Not to mention visions of the axe murder incident we just learned about dancing in our head.

Standing on both the north and south

We were then led into the conference room where all the exciting discussions between the north, south and JSA and other countries are. In there we were able to stand with one foot on the north side and one on the south.

Standing next to the guard hoping I won’t get beat up

We also got to pose with the guards who would take us down if we stood to close. I did not doubt that statement.

Sometime during that adventure we were fed; I choose the yummy bipimbap. Overall I think this was an awesome experience and I am so glad I did it. I recommend every does it while in South Korea.

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