October 30, 2010

DMZ in Seoul

Last weekend I went to Seoul for the first time. Corinne and I were going primarily to see the DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone. You must be on a tour to see it, so we got up at 6 am and got a bus. It was quite the experience.

This year marks the 60 year anniversary of the end of the Korean War, and so there were a lot of events around the area - a concert set up, some sort of march with people with little numbers pinned to their chest, and this carnival.

This is one of the trains that traveled through the DMZ to connect North and South, it is no longer in use (though there is now a modern train, you'll see the station at the end of this post)

I found this very interesting, it is in the only place I have seen so far where the US and Korean flags were not posted right next to each other.

Corinne inspires me to eat street food, this is spicy chicken (maybe?) on a stick.

These are bridges, which were used to exchange POWs between the North and South. The one that is on the left in the picture is called the "Bridge to Freedom," and the one on the right is falling apart, and is no longer used.

You can walk partway up the "Bridge of Freedom." The ribbons are hooked up to the fences and were beautiful. I just wish I could read Korean so that I could tell what they said.

Corinne took these two. We went to an observatory where you could see the North Korean Propaganda Village.

You couldn't take pictures right up at the viewfinders, so this is the best picture I could get. The village has the world's highest flagpole. There are giant speakers that play propaganda recordings, but I didn't hear any.

North Korean forces have dug four tunnels under the DMZ towards Seoul, and the third one is open for tourists to walk down it. We walked down until we were about 120 m from the Military Demarcation Line (Armistice Line), which is the actual border between North and South.

You cannot take pictures in the tunnel, which I think is mostly for security reasons. This is a picture of a picture from when they discovered the tunnel, to give you an idea of the size. They told us that 30,000 troops plus artillery could travel through this tunnel each hour.

This is the new train station to North Korea.

Really, it looks a lot like every other train station I've been to in Korea.

Overall, I would recommend anyone going to Korea to take the time to see it. It really was enlightening to see all of the things you study about in person. Pictures cannot do something like the DMZ justice. As for Seoul, it was really overwhelming. I knew it was the fourth biggest city in the world, but I have gotten so used to Daegu, where you can get around on the subway easily, people don't walk smack into you, and generally you can walk next to your friends.. Seoul was a bit of a shock. I left feeling glad to be heading home, and really think I made the right decision choosing to live in Daegu. I'll be heading back to Seoul maybe next month, they have a ton of cultural sites and museums, temples and palaces.

My cat's really weird. This is how Trenton likes to relax. Her front legs are sprawled out on each side of my leg. She also sleeps on top of me - I lay on my side and she likes to lay down on my waist or thighs. This is problematic because I move around a lot in my sleep, so she gets mad and meows until I wake up. But, she is cute and sweet and I am happy to have her.

Most of the family probably already knows, but if you haven't heard, Tricia (my sister) has a blog about her experiences in China. The website is http://triciareneem.wordpress.com/

I took lots of cute pictures of the kindergarten students dressed up for our Halloween party, so expect that post to be up soon!

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