Most of us see South Korea as a country with a flourishing culture due to the increasing influence of K-Pop and and K-Drama. However, despite the advancements in culture and technology, South Korea is still stuck on 1953 – South Korea is still at war with North Korea.
Last December 1, 2017, I joined the DMZ – Panmunjom Tour offered by Klook (details and itinerary below) and I was kindly assisted by the Korean tour guide named Daria, and she was the one who explained these things to me. Weeks prior to this, the North Korean soldier escaped the border thus, the tension is very high. Here’s a sample copy of the waiver that we signed before proceeding in the tour:
Nevertheless, I signed it and proceeded. Let me show you three things you can see when you book this tour:
1. The Third Tunnel
Cameras are not allowed in the tunnel but they showed us a video on the DMZ video hall as shown above prior on entering it to prime up our minds on what to expect there. North Korea built tunnels underground and they have built 20 tunnels yet 4 were only discovered.
Things to remember:
- Skip this if you have a weak body. I felt like I was hiking and my body was not prepped up for that. However, they do have oxygen masks.
- The place is not too fancy. However, as what Daria told us, you might get lucky to see some soldiers from North Korea at the end of the tunnel.
2. Dorasan Station
Imagine extending your tour from Korea to Europe by land. Is that even possible? Yes, that probably could be if the North and South is connected. The tour guide told us that we could travel from North Korea to Russia and probably extending to Europe if the Dorasan Station would be opened. And of course, that would be possible if there is unification. However for now, what we could do is just take photos as souvenirs and appreciate what it got just like what I did below:
3. JSA (Joint Security Area)
To those who want to set foot on North Korean land, here’s the place for you. Around this area is where the incident happened regarding the soldier who escaped the border. Our guide in here was a UN soldier who explained the do’s and don’ts of when we go around the area. So for those who are photo junkies, limit your picture-taking and abide by the rules – it’s better to go home safe than sorry.
- To most of the places that we visited, we usually could just shoot in front, not the ones on the sides.
- You’ll set foot on Korean land once you enter the blue house as seen in the photo.
- This is where they signed their armistice agreement.
This might just be the three places out of the many that we have seen, and I would not be putting it all here for you because it is better to experience it firsthand. I hope that by showing you these three places, it would spark your interest to know more about Korea aside from its popular culture and educate yourself on the real situation of the country in the past, present, and the near future. Of course, you can reward yourself and get something memorable from the souvenir shops around DMZ.
I got these and considered as my most precious souvenir in the border. What would you grab if you go there?
Details of the Trip
- pre-booked via Klook for about PHP6300 or 120USD
- left Seoul at 8:30AM and arrived at around 6PM
- 8:00am hotel pick up (exact time to be clarified with guide a few days prior)
- Imjingak Park
- Freedom Bridge
- 3rd Infiltration Tunnel
- DMZ Theater & Exhibition Hall
- Dora Observatory
- Dorasan Station
- Pass by Unification Village
- ID Checkpoint
- Camp Bonifas (Slide show & briefing)
- JSA Tour (Freedom House, Conference Room, Bridge of No Return, Ax Murder Incident Site)
- 5:00pm Drop off at Lotte Hotel (Sogongdong)
- Book here at Klook: https://www.klook.com/activity/223-panmunjom-and-dmz-tour-gyeonggi-do/
- Some photos by Kristian during his visit before, check out his website: http://www.xtianguevara.com
- Are you learning Korean? Check out my online resources here: http://justjezze.com/8-online-resources-korean-learners/
- Find your enrollment centers in Manila as well: http://justjezze.com/five-places-learn-korean/