Sunday 12 January 2014

Korea - Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Korea trip Oct 2013

"Korea is such a 
beautiful country 
but with a sad history." 
Quoted from F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Finally, our last destination in Korea gonna ends with the most dangerous yet safest place in Korea. lol irony right? "The most dangerous place is the safest place" --- famous quote. 

Anyway, we booked with this DMZ tour 1 online at 46,000 won each. Surprisingly, they replied very promptly! Also, please take note of those days that are not open for visiting for your planning. I was so excited to go that morning and decided to play a prank on my friends by sending them message "Help me tell my mother that I love her if I could not make it back". Then I got scolded when I got back in SG ~.~ cannot take jokes one meh..

Oh yes, remember to bring passport otherwise you are not allowed to enter the area.

Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

We were picked up at our hotel at 8am with other tourists in the tour bus, mostly were westerners. Our tour guide's english was so damn good and I like how he articulated all his words so clearly. Probably because he faces so many westerners daily. On a long bus trip to the most northern end of South Korea, he shared with us all the stories/history about Korea. He also told us to be punctual otherwise the bus will drive off after 5 minutes passed the meeting time.. need so fierce one meh.. 

Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was established after Korean War (June 25 1950 – July 27 1953) after both parties has signed Korean Armistice Agreement. An agreement for both warring parties to cease fire but it does not necessarily means the end of the war.

DMZ is a 250km long and 4km wide buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea. Though the name, this zone is the most heavily militarized border in the world. This has cut Korea into two, resulting the only divided country in the world.

(source from wikipedia)

With the tense situation between the parties, several unfortunate incidents happened within Joint Security Area (JSA) where the only connection between the two parties. One of them was the Axe-Murder incident in August 1976 involved the attempted trimming of a poplar tree which resulted in two deaths. Apparently, one party wanted to chop away one tree that block their view causing another party not happy.. then started the firing incident... I guess its not the tree problem, its their problem.. 

Despite the fact that DMZ is very heavily armed border, it is still a safe and popular tourist destinations in Korea.

Our itinerary:
Hotel → Imjingak Park → The Bridge of Freedom → The 3rd infiltration Tunnel → DMZ Theater / Exhibition Hall → Dora observatory → Dorasan Station → Unification Village (Pass by) → Amethyst / Ginseng Center → Arrive at City Hall / Itaewon

Wire fences at the side of the highway all the way to DMZ

A closer look

Actually it was quite scary to see there are wire fences along the highway and they get higher and more intense when we are nearing the zone. We also saw guard houses along the way too.

Finally we reached the first stop of the tour.

Provision shops for tourists

While waiting for our tour guide to buy tickets and get our passports verified.

We were free to walk around Imjingak Park.

The Peace Bell

"As we bid farewell to 20th century in which we witnessed the division of the Korean Peninsula, we welcome the 21st century as a time of reunification and peace for all mankind. It is here, at a point that marks the division of North and South that the hopes and prayers of 9 millions Kyonggi citizens come together in the erection of the Peace Bell Monument. The Peace Bell which is 2.23m in diameter, 3.8m high and weighs 21 tons is made of bronze and tin in the traditional Korean style. 
The bell pavilion which is made of wood with a four-sided arched roof, sits on an area of 70.5sqm and 12.18m high." 
By Lim, Chang-Yuel
Governor of Kyonggi Province

The distance between Seoul and Gaeseong (a city of southern North Korea). So near yet so far.

Peace-Wishing Ribbon Hanging

Prayers from the families to hope for their families' safety.

The Bridge of Freedom

Hope for the return of their families

Many world leaders and celebrities have visited DMZ and prayed for peace. It has became a symbolic place for peaceful unification. 

Now started the real tour..

A simple artpiece shows how much they want to patch up frayed relations between parties.

We were told not to photograph anything after we enter this museum where it shows a short 3D video of the history and the creation of DMZ, and a tour in Exhibition Hall that displays photographs and other materials.

After that we went to tour the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel by walking the trails in the tunnel. It was designed at the angle of 11 degree (if I remember correctly, if not 12 degree) where it is not uncomfortable for human being to climb. In the tunnel, we came to an end point where we can see the other side through a very small window. There even has a small CCTV to monitor if anyone try to take any photos in there... so be careful..

Dora Observatory

At the platform, tourists are allowed to use binoculars to oversee North Korea- Gaeseong’s suburban areas at 50 won each time. Too bad, that day the weather was so foggy that we were unable to see anything clearly =(

This was our tour guide! He has been working as a DMZ tour guide for many years and has a very good relationship with the soldiers. He said sometimes if soldiers are in a good mood, they are willing to take picture with tourists and of course if you are a pretty lady lol!!

Dorasan Station

In 2000, representatives from both parties agreed to connect at the Gyeongui Railroad Line. However, the plan did not go the way it should be. It is now becomes another tourist attraction. At 50 won, tourists are able to purchase a train ticket for future usage.

"Not the last station from the South,
But the first station towards the North"

Former U.S. President George W. Bush visited here in 2002.

Unification Village

DMZ has became a UNESCO transboundary biosphere reserve.

You can read more about DMZ here.

This has ended my first trip to Korea. I must say this is a very fruitful and eyes opening trip for me. I used to not like Korea because I feel their drama plot always so draggy and keep crying BUT my love towards Korea is growing lol.

I hope the next time I will be back is during their winter for skiing! OK now I have to learn roller blade first. lol 


  1. I'm really interested in DMZ (Demilitarized zone) tours. Thank you for very useful information. Is there any package deal for DMZ tour?

    1. Yes, you must join a tour in order to go. I have shared the link in my blog =)