This weekend I went to the DMZ. It was somewhat of an ill-fated trip, because the weather was awful, which reduced visibility to nearly nothing.
The second reason it wasn’t that great was because the tour guide wasn’t really much of a tour guide. Sure, she got up occasionally on the bus ride and gave us information, but I think I would have liked a more personal experience. Then again, this wasn’t billed as a personal tour, thus why it cost less than other tours.
On the bus, I met a French girl named Lucille. She was unfairly beautiful, and I guessed her to be Swedish, because if she were she would have met the stereotype to a T. She talked about how bad her accent was, when for the most part I didn’t think so. She is studying in Korea for the semester.
The first place we went had this interested “Wall of Stones” in which where stones from various wars. It even claimed to have a stone from a Revolutionary War battle site! Hm… There was an old rusty train there from the days of North and South Korea having a railway through one another.
This time, I sat next to a guy named Darek. He is also studying for the semester, but I don’t know if it’s the same university. He was from Lithuania, and he was probably the first person I have ever met from there! He gave me a brief geography lesson on where his country is located, and gave me some Korean tips. He also explained how a lot of people from his country have relatives in Belarus, and how the two countries have a sort of Visa war, being that Belarus charges a lot for Lithuanians to enter. I don’t remember if it is vice versa, but it was fascinating to listen to him talk about it.
The next stop was where we went into an underground tunnel thing. North Korea apparently dug 4 tunnels since the Korean war ended in the 50s, one having been discovered as recently as 1990! The one we saw was the third tunnel discovered, and the closest we got to North Korea on the tour, I think. The tunnel was packed with all of the tourists, and while it was cool, I think if I weren’t trying to get the full experience it was almost skip-able. It did, however, have a decent little museum section and it had the other DMZ sign that I posed next to.
The third stop was this observation deck, which had a great view but unfortunately it was obscured by all the fog and mist. I took a few pictures anyway. I met two Americans around this time, named Brian and Sarah. They are teaching near where I would have been, had I gotten my original teaching job, and with the same company. We tried to imagine what it must be like, living in a country where the rest of the world knows you’re completely restricted, and being told that you’re not.
The last stop was Gyeongui Railway Transit Office, the weirdest stop on the tour. The tour had advertised that this was where you could get your passport stamped! But, as the tour guide said, this would be a bad idea, because Japan would refuse entry for those interested in visiting it. So I bought a ticket, and got the ticket stamped instead. This was an interesting place. It was built in the hopes that North Korea will cool off and allow the building of a transcontinental railroad, one that will start in South Korea, continue on through North Korea, and possibly even head out into Europe. How cool would that be?! But, for now, it’s like this strange half-abandoned place.
Thus, my tour in a nutshell. I hope you enjoyed reading!