Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Day 5 of Seoul - DMZ / JSA tour

this place of visit was top on my list for our South Korea trip.....learnt a plentiful through this visit and did a plentiful of reading about the tension between North and South korea after this visit too....  

do click on the links in this post to find out more if u r also a fan of war history.. =) 

FYI: 
DMZ stands for Demilitarized Zone. It is a 4km wide and 250km long area that divides the Korea Peninsular into North and South.
pic from wikipedia 


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sleepy heads on the bus who woke up at 5+am, braved the cold at 6+am just so to report on time for our DMZ & JSA tour at 7am.... 

another pic since i was looking not too awful... 

like what lene said' "i wonder where you get all your confidence from?"... my reply is, "i seriously also dun know".... wahahahahahaha.... 

permission pass to enter the JSA .... we had booked the tour with Koridoor at 92usd per pax... not only was this service provider the cheapest that i had found... the meeting point, at Samgakji station - was the most convenient for us who were staying at Hapjeong (hongdae) area... 

after an hour bus ride, we reached the entrance of the military base - civilian off limit line 

where a united nation soldier boarded our bus to check our passport  details against the list that was submitted during our registration... bet they had done thorough check on each and every one of us....  





we were first brought into an auditorium for a PPT presentation briefing us on how DMZ/JSA came about before we were led to our first point of visit - United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) Conference Building



2 minutes into the introduction... a big shot UN soldier ('starry starry/ crabby crabby') came over to ask us to move back into the Freedom House as there would be a "broken telephone" communication between them and the North... it was mentioned that the exchange was gonna be 'elementary' as the procedure was, is, has been and will be like this: 

(1) UN dial a call to the North Korean soldiers who are working in the opposite building to convey the daily update 
(2) Call will not be answered 
(3) UN personnel and translator walk out of their office/base camp to this area in front of the North's building to shout across using a loud hailer to ask them to answer the call



(4) Request will be ignore as the North will still refuse to pick up the call
(5) UN personnel and translator walk out from their office/base camp to this area AGAIN, to shout across to the North using the loud hailer AGAIN, to inform them that they are just going to shout the message across AGAIN, just like all other days previously.... 



(6) Wait for the North to send their soldiers running down the steps with a camcorder to record the message while it is being shouted across..... 




finally.... the comical exchange between the United Nation and the North Korean was over and we were allowed back out... 

this area is also known as the JSA; Joint Security Area where the North & South Korean force stand face-to-face... we were not allowed to take picture of the Freedom house building which were on the South Korea side where we passed through and took refuge in but were allowed to take pic of this building on the North Korean side opposite us ... 

this lone North Korean soldier is on duty 8 hours a day, regardless of weather and Korea has 4 seasons.... =S 


Inside the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) Conference Building where meetings between North Korea, South Korea and United Nation are held rather regularly  


stressed faces from us next to the emotionless and ready to react South Korean soldier while 洪爸爸 and 洪妈妈 were totally chill about it 


the queue of people from our bus waiting patiently for their turn


next stop: a view of North Korea Propaganda Village 
*click on the link to read up more about this village... i find it really interesting and at the same time ridiculous... =D 


the 160m tall flag pole with a 27 kg flag 

the freezing in the cold mother & son... 



The Bridge of No Return was used for the exchange of prisoners of war up till 1976 .... 




near the Bridge of No Return was the site where the Axe Murder Incident took place - a clash between the North and the South over a tree that resulted in the death of soldiers from both sides... =S


*click the links to read about the 72 hour bridge which was built in 72 hours by the North Korean after the The Bridge of No Return was off limit to the North due to the Axe Murder Incident


Next stop: Dorasan Train Station 




list of donors who made the train station a reality at a US$40 million price tag 


one counter staff... no passenger.... there's either none or up to 4 trains from Seoul each day, just for tourists...


this train station comes with a custom and immigration area that's totally EMPTY - which makes sense since NO ONE can pass between South Korea and North Korea so 光明正大-ly..... 

The station and the connecting rail are part of a super ambitious dream to link South Korea to Europe via North Korea, China and/or Russia ... 

North Korea agreed to the plan - that's y the rail was built

North Korea decided not to execute the plan - that's y the rail has been left idle since its completion.... 

what an expensive dream!!! 
*click the pic and enlarge it to see the linkage


Artworks wishing for Unification between North and South Korea 'decorated' the station and these were some which caught my attention; 












The 'ERP' towards Kaesong Industrial Region 

as of April 2013, this industrial region, although houses 123 South Korea's companies, were employing approximately 53,000 DPRK (North Korea) workers and only 800 ROK (South Korea) staff. Their (North Korea) wages, totalling $90 million each year, was paid DIRECTLY to the North Korean government.... 

It was suspected that it was THESE wages that funded the North's nuclear development... =S ... so the South made a declaration on 10 February 2016 that they would be stopping the operation in due time.... the North retaliated the very next day and gave the South 24 hours to vacate the region....

After reading about North Korea's 72 hour bridge and this retaliation, I am beginning to admire their efficiency and competency... oopx!!! 

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Lunch time - cafeteria style @ 7000 won (S$8.20) each 





supposed to eat it bimbibap style where everything is to be mixed together with the rice... we ate it 菜饭 style....wahahahahaha 




cute South Korea soldier outside the 3rd tunnel of Aggression .... 

no photography allow.... =( 

we had to walk down a very steep slope, built by the United Nation, leading to the tunnel built by North Korea towards Seoul.... The North claimed that it was a coal mining tunnel but no coal deposits were ever found... (>.<!!!)~


magnet to remember this visit for our fridge 

and a wooden comb for 洪婆婆

bought also an interesting read about this place of interest which provides a more detailed elaboration of the events ... =) 

the bus took us back to Koridoor office near Samgakji  and we were ready for our next destination; Korea War Memorial Museum by 330pm... =)  

this visit ignites my desire to visit the DMZ/JSA area from North Korea and to listen to their version of the events that had happened.... the question now is when?!?!?!?!?!

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