North Korea
North Korea

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  • Day28

    Visiting the DMZ

    September 24, 2019 in North Korea ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    A guided day trip today, and one that I'd been excited for since we first booked the trip: we were going to the DMZ, the De-Militarized Zone that sits aside the "Military Demarcation Line", the border between North and South Korea. The last vestige of the cold war.

    Quick bite from a bakery, subway a few stops away, and we were on our bus with about 30 others heading north out of Seoul. Apartment buildings gave way to fields, and then a riverbank which was lined with barbed wire and studded with guard towers. Parts of North Korea ran along the far side (a long way off), but I guess it's still considered a potential avenue of attack.

    After an hour or so we arrived in the general area which is surprisingly close to Seoul, only about 50km or so. After passport checks, the first stop was the observatory. This is outside the DMZ but just near it, sitting on top of a tall hill. Here we watched a movie about Korean war, then headed out on the terrace where a bunch of binoculars were set up and you could see fairly clearly into North Korea, still a few kilometres away.

    It was fairly easy to pick out various NK guardposts and towers, and I even saw one guard leave his hut to pee in the bushes (well that's what it looked like he was doing anyway!). You could see Kaesong as well, the third largest city in NK, though not much action was happening. Occasional guys on mopeds, one platoon of soldiers, and at one point I saw some people in a bullock-cart. You could vaguely make out the Joint Security Area as well, which we'd get to later in the day.

    Next up was the Tunnel. This was a long tunnel underneath the border dug by NK that was only discovered in the 1970s after information from a defector. The tunnel runs several kilometres under the border about 70 metres below ground, emerging in a wooded area south of the DMZ. I think the idea was to deploy troops behind enemy lines in a surprise attack scenario; this was the third tunnel found and it's suspected there might even be hundreds more.

    Unfortunately for us it was absolutely crawling with Chinese tourists! There must've been at least 50 bus loads of them, and the queue to enter the tunnel was a hundred meters long. After a brief survey of the bus, we decided to alter our itinerary for the day.

    So next we ended up at the train station. This is on the old north-south railway line that runs through Korea. The station was built in the early 2000s when relations were thawing - the Hyundai corp and both governments set up a joint industrial complex just across the border, and this is where workers would pass through going back and forth. Eventually it all fell apart and the station is disused these days, though it still remains as a symbol of hope. It's also the only overland way of leaving South Korea.

    We also visited a cafeteria here for workers in the reunification ministry and had lunch; a bit expensive but I loaded up my plate to get some serious value.

    We returned to the tunnel and found the place almost deserted, I guess all the Chinese had departed for the local Chinese restaurant for their lunch! So the tunnel was completely empty when we went in - a bloody long walk! It was quite small as well, only about 1.5m in height so quite uncomfortable for me to walk in. Even by NK standards it's small - our guide said the average Northerner is 5'6", though the guards they put on the border are always 6-foot plus!

    Tunnel finished, it was back to the bus where we headed for the Joint Security Area, the spot controlled by the UN and US forces, along with guys from the ROK army. This is the spot where the blue huts are located, and where recent peace talks took place between North and South (and Trump also visited here).

    Armed only with cameras and passports, we boarded a US Army bus accompanied by several soldiers and finally actually entered the DMZ - everything else had been outside of it. One village from each side is allowed within the DMZ, so we drove past where about 200 people live within a kilometre of North Korea. They don't pay taxes and are excused from conscription, so it's a good deal for them. The highest flagpole in South Korea is here, a gift from some country or another; though of course the highest flagpole in the Korean peninsula sits just across the MDL in the North Korean village. Of course!

    Finally we arrived at the JSA, where after another quick briefing we were escorted out into the blue huts area. There's actually five buildings there - three blue ones controlled by the UN and US, and two silver ones controlled by North Korea. Though apparently they don't use their ones. There was the border, right there, only a few metres away. We went into the central building, where many peace talks over the years have taken place.

    The border runs directly through the centre of the room, so crossing to the far side technically puts you into North Korea. Technically. I still went! They showed us a few other highlights, like some bullet marks from when a NK defector drove his jeep across the border back in 2017. A peace tree planted by Kim Jong-un and President Moon. A blue bridge that's a shortcut to the UN camp nearby.

    While we were being escorted around, a group of North Korean soldiers had come out onto the balcony of their building overlooking the area and were keeping watch. Most likely they were running a tour as well, which they apparently do a couple of times per day for rich Chinese visitors. Close enough to hear them talking! We were under strict instructions not to wave at them though, and technically any sort of fraternising without express permission is considered a crime in South Korea.

    So we just looked, then headed back for the bus back to Seoul.

    Last stop for the day was a quick visit to Seoul's N Tower. It's a tall TV-transmission sort of observation tower sitting on a hill in southern Seoul. It's apparently quite a nice spot to see the sunset from the top, but we decided to walk up and couldn't quite find the entrance to the park it's located in, so in the end we missed it! Great view though. Back home where we had 7-11 noodles for dinner - it's been an expensive day.
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    Trish Forrester

    Nice view!

    Trish Forrester

    Very interesting day. I think I would have been a bit on edge!

  • Day5


    September 11, 2018 in North Korea

    離開飯店第一站 #王建王陵,
    王建是 #高麗王朝 的開國國君,為 #高麗太祖 。

  • Day5


    September 11, 2018 in North Korea

    我們回平壤的路上,順路去了 #正方山
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  • Day5


    September 11, 2018 in North Korea

    #平壤凱旋門 是為了慶祝主席70大壽和慶祝主席抗日並解放朝鮮的勝利而建的。一旁剛好是金日成體育館,聽小金說今天好像有朝鮮的足球國內聯賽,剛好藉機跟小金聊一下國內的足球,我和小金說2010年朝鮮有踢世界盃,我也有看,不過他說朝鮮的男足很普通,女足比較強。
    另外最讓我驚訝的是小金說他曾經買了三張運動彩券都沒中,虧了一些,此時才知道朝鮮人也玩博弈的阿!!! 不過似乎僅限國內運動,也是挺讓人意外了。另外小金也說他有在看西甲巴塞隆納和皇馬,原來朝鮮也關注國際賽事,已經不是我們想像中那麼封閉了。
    #中朝友誼塔 ,友誼塔是為了紀念1950年韓戰的中國人民志願軍犧牲者,塔內有幾幅簡單的壁畫和記錄著當年韓戰的英雄名冊。抵達中朝友誼塔,大金和大家說可以買束花向這些人民志願軍致敬,大家先整好隊,後來大金說”台灣的不用!你們可以先站旁邊” (雖然一開始有點抗拒,覺得人民志願軍到底關我什麼事😂)。 但是看到大家都上前致敬,我還是去意思意思鞠個恭😂,就想是為了和平致敬吧。塔內的英雄名冊裡翻一翻,也見到了毛澤東的兒子也在上面,還有幾位烈士是我曾經有聽過故事的烈士。
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  • Day3


    September 9, 2018 in North Korea

    Note : Because of photo forbade, some photo credit by news media from Net.
    [ 朝鮮日誌 ] Day 2 × 2018.09.09 part.2
    #第一次出國玩還要帶正裝 🙄
    先來說 #表演 的部分。不得不說表演真的超級好看從一開始小動畫就讓我驚訝了,那些小動畫每一格的動畫都是台上那群成千上萬的小朋友翻牌子做出來的。還有無人機表演,排出國旗形狀和“光輝的祖國”文字,在晴朗的夜空下更顯得耀眼。中間穿插各種雜技表演和人體藝術都很高難度,他們卻做到了,真的是非常厲害。記得最感動的一幕是投射今年四月份金正恩和文在寅在板門店握手的那一幕,在北韓真實呈現,一直以為兩韓高峰會是在北韓被屏蔽的消息。最後還有一些與國際接軌,拉進與世界繼距離的表演,整體來說真的很棒很值得,不過非常可惜全程不能錄影,手機也不能帶,在飯店就必須放手機。
    再來是 #演出前和演出後的辛酸故事。
    以為這樣就到演出會場了嗎? 不是!! 等了超久才知道這是第一關安檢,為什麼安檢和會場不同地方? 因為各國政要都在表演會場,官方如果把遊客和政要放在同一個地方,安檢會有危險(?),所以不會攪和一起的,安檢的方式也讓我大開眼界, 先把幾千名遊客趕下車,到文化宮室內集合,然後拉一條虛擬安檢線,在線外所有遊覽車先進行車檢,檢完後換安檢線內遊客,檢完才能放回車上,身上不能有電子產品,所以我連藍芽手錶都不能帶,超嚴格的。檢完也差不多六點了,再統一出發到會場,到會場的每個Gate前都先集合好再一起放進去,所以就是他媽超擠的,發生踩踏事件都不意外吧= =
    重點是 #金正恩 離我100公尺左右而已,不虛此行!
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  • Day11

    Bridge of No Return

    August 12, 2016 in North Korea ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    גשר שחיבר בין דרום לצפון קוריאה. לאחר מלחמת קוריאה בשנת 1953, אנשים בכל צד יכלו לבחור האם הם רוצים לעבור לצד השני, אבל ברגע שעשו זאת, לא יכלו לחזור אחורה.

  • Day5


    September 11, 2018 in North Korea

    很像一些歐洲國家首都都會有的中央廣場,通常人最多最熱鬧,有什麼重要活動都會聚集在這裡,而說到重要活動,朝鮮的閱兵也就是在這邊舉行的。這天這廣場遇到一堆大媽,問了導遊說為什麼今天這麼多大媽? 原因是因為最近光輝的祖國開演,開演之前大家都在這邊彩排,地上留下很多記號,而當地大媽們基本上都很樂意加入志工服務,帶著水桶刷子就來清理廣場上的彩排記號保持都市整潔。從大同江往廣場望去,對面就是 #人民大學習堂,就是國家圖書館。
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  • Day4


    September 10, 2018 in North Korea

    #高麗成均館 是朝鮮國內其中一個聯合國世界文化遺產就等於是早期中國的最高學習殿。堂國子監,現在的最高學府的意思。不過目前仍保留過去的成均館的古蹟,現在朝鮮成均館就在旁邊,而現名為 – 高麗成均館大學。在成均館古蹟裡也有展示一些當時的文物等等。成均館的建築真的跟韓國古裝劇裡一樣!😍裡面兩側還有早期的學校宿舍,不過高麗王朝文物的展示似乎沒有太特別的東西~
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  • Day2


    March 19, 2016 in North Korea ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    Finally I'm back. After 6 months I'm standing at the same place, the border between North and South Korea but this time on the South side, looking towards the communist building I've been on.
    The circle has completed and the most important part of all my travels in this life has been achieved.
    The last picture shows the views from both sides.
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  • Day6


    September 12, 2018 in North Korea

    #青山里合作農場 是朝鮮的示範農場,據說主席生前來過80多次了,這個農場積極種植溫室植物,多為蔬菜水果,農場後方還有一大片的稻田。想到朝鮮給人的印象是大飢荒餓死人,看著後面一片片的稻田,我想那個大飢荒的時代已經過去了,現在應該大多都不愁吃穿了。

You might also know this place by the following names:

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Nordkorea, North Korea, Noord-Korea, Etifi Koria, ሰሜን ኮሪያ, Corea d'o Norte, كوريا الشمالية, Corea del Norte, Şimal Koreya, Паўночная Карэя, Корея, Северна, Kɛɲɛka Kore, উত্তর কোরিয়া, ཁྲའོ་ཤན་བྱང་རྒྱུད, Korea an Norzh, Severna Koreja, Corea del Nord, Severní Korea, Kòrejańskô Lëdowò-Demokratnô Repùblika, Gogledd Corea, Den demokratiske folkerepublik Korea (Nordkorea), བྱང་ཀོ་རི་ཡ, Dziehe Korea nutome, Κορέα, Βόρεια, Nord-Koreo, Põhja-Korea, Ipar Korea, کره ی شمالی, Koree Rewo, Korean demokraattinen kansantasavalta, Norður-Korea, Corée du Nord, Corê du Nord, Noard-Korea, An Chóiré Thuaidh, Corea do Norte, ઉત્તર કોરિયા, Koreya Ta Arewa, קוריאה, צפון, उत्तरी कोरिया, Koreja, Sjeverna, Sewjerna Koreja, Kore dinò, Észak-Korea, Հյուսիսային Կորեա, Korea Utara, Nord-Korea, Norður-Kórea, 韓国、朝鮮民主主義人民共和国, ჩრდილოეთი კორეა, Korea Kaskazini, Korea Avannarleq, កូរេ, ಉತ್ತರ ಕೋರಿಯಾ, 조선민주주의인민공화국, کۆریای باکوور, Korea Gledh, Respublica Populi Democratica Coreae, Koreya ey'omumambuka, Korɛ ya nɔ́rdi, ເກົາຫລີເໜືອ, Šiaurės Korėja, Kore wa muulu, Ziemeļkoreja, Korea Avaratra, Северна Кореја, ഉത്തരകൊറിയ, उत्तर कोरिया, Utara Korea, Koreja ta’ Fuq, မြောက်ကိုရီးယား, Republik Engame Korea, Noordkorea, Korea, Democratische Volksrepubliek, Corèa del Nòrd, ଉତ୍ତର କୋରିଆ, Корейы Адæмон Демократон Республикæ, Koreańska Republika Ludowo-Demokratyczna, سهېلي کوريا, Coreia do Norte, Corea dal Nord, Koreya y'amajaruguru, Coreea de Nord, Северная Корея, Corea dû Nord, Davvi-Korea, Korëe tî Banga, උතුරු කොරියාව, Severná Kórea, North, Kuuriyada Waqooyi, Koreja e Veriut, வடகொரியா, ఉత్తర కొరియా, เกาหลีเหนือ, Demirgazyk Koreýa, Hilagang Korea, Kōlea tokelau, Not Korea, Kore Demokratik Halk Cumhuriyeti, Корейська Народно-Демократична Республіка, شمالی کوریا, Shimoliy Koreya, Cộng hòa Dân chủ Nhân dân Triều Tiên, Nolüda-Koreyän, Amihanan nga Korea, 朝鲜, Orílẹ́ède Guusu Kọria, 朝鲜民主共和国, i-North Korea