Tuesday, November 22, 2011


One of the most fascinating stops on our trip was the DMZ, or demilitarized zone, between North and South Korea.

Truth be told, I don't know how to describe the feeling in this two-mile border between the countries. Perhaps it was all these seemingly incongruent feelings trying to co-exist. Perfectly safe, but somehow a bit unsettled. Sympathy and suspicion.

I believe it is most evidenced in our apparent confusion about how one is to smile or not smile in pictures along this most heavily militarized border in the world.

Our tour included a walk down into one of the incursion tunnels {wikipedia - anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information}, four tunnels dug through the DMZ, believed to be planned military invasions from the North.

We also visited Dorasan Station - the northernmost train station in South Korea. Before this visit, I'd never thought about the trade and logistics implications of the divide. Without access to the rest of Asia through North Korea, South Korea is essentially an island. If I understood correctly {allison's blog - she can write anything she wants on any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information}, after one test run, North Korea put the kibosh on trains coming from the South. So for now, this station is completely deserted.

Another stop was the Dora Conservatory, from which you can actually see the North Korean town of Kijong-Dong. This town was an especially interesting, if not just really sad, glimpse of North Korea. This town is apparently just concrete shells of buildings. Our guides said there are actors hired to pretend they are happily living life in this fake town. It's heartbreaking to think of a government draining resources into smoke and mirrors while its own people are starving and oppressed. We didn't actually see the town, so we'll have to take our guide's and the interwebs' word for it. Thanks to a heavy fog, this was our view of Kijong-Dong:

1 comment:

Missy said...

North Korea is SO fascinating. I just recently watched this documentary by Lisa Ling and National Geographic:
And it totally blew my mind. How cool to go see it first hand... well, from across a fence anyway :)

Love your pictures, looks like an amazing trip!