Friday, May 15, 2009

Visit to the DMZ

The visit the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea is quite an experience. It is peace time, yet you still have a certain sense of war.

To visit Mt Dora Observation Platform, we had to first stop at Imjingak station to get our tickets as well as a name list. The rule says that you need at least 30 passengers in the tour bus then you can have your own tour bus going into the restricted area; otherwise, you have to take the bus from Imjingak tourist bureau.

Our local guide was a dare-devil. There were only 26 tourists, plus our local guide, our tour leader and bus driver, then total was still only 29 people. The she borrowed 4 more passports from another group to make it 30.

When our tour bus reached Tongil Brigde (I guess), we were stopped at the sentry point jointly manned by both South Korean & American soldiers. A South Korean soldier boarded the bus, check our passport and count the number of people. Then he discovered the discrepancy in the number of passengers. So? So we were turned back to Imjingak station, and changed to the normal tour bus there.

The bus first brought us through the Tongil Bridge, then passed by the American barracks, then stopped at Mt Dora Observation Platform. We were only given about 20 mins to 'worship' our 'great' North Korea!

The next stop is the 3rd tunnel. In total, South Korea discovered a total of 4 tunnels said to be dug by North Korea for invasion purpose. The 3rd tunnel is the longest, and the only one open to the public.

I walked down the entire length of the tunnel that is opened to the public. The tunnel is wide, around 2m by 2m at the widest, but narrower at some sections. The rock formation along the tunnel is granite, but with water sipping in in some places. I wonder, how much effort the North needed to dig such a big & long tunnel?!

After the 3rd tunnel, we arrived at the north most train station in South Korea, which is the Dorasan Station. The station is said to be built with money donated by the South Korea public. Inside the station, you can buy post cards and have them stamped the Dorasan station stamp, which is said to be 'precious'. And you can also stamp it on the observation page in your passport.

Then that's the end of the DMZ tour. It is quite boring if you have no interest in the Korean war, you have no idea about the those stories associated with the 38 degrees parallel.

If you want to know more, you can visit the DMZ website at

Too bad, most of the places in the DMZ don't allow photography, so no photo to show :)

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