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South Korea-Run Run DMZ

Yesterday, I awoke early to visit the DMZ zone, which is the demilitarized zone between North And South Korea. A small bus took me to the big bus from the hostel for the hour and 1/2 ride. I was seated on the bus next to a 20 something American girl who said she was travelling around the world, going to Europe, Asia and Australia for 2 months. i probably should have sounded impressed but I remarked how that seemed like a rushed trip-she didn't like that, she remarked "well it's never enough time"

We arrived to a touristy area, with the Freedom bridge, which is the bridge that POW's from North Korean returned on. There was also a park and a bombed out locomotive used on display, which was used to carry ammunition from the South to soliders in North Korea, and it was riddled with bullets. The park also had a giant observation deck (you couldn't see much except some mountains which weren't too far off, even though it was a sunny day). There was also a small amusement park, cafeteria, and other tourist-oriented places.

Then we got back on the bus and went to the third tunnel, which was discovered in 1974, created by the North Koreans so they could secretly attack South Korea. This involved a LONG walk down to the tunnel, and then a long walk in the tunnel, hunched over with hard-hats. Of course we didn't walk through the whole tunnel, where there is a concrete barricade. We then took the long walk back. Of course, there was another souvenir shop and we we're herded back on the bus.

For the third stop, we went to an observation point, where you can actually see North Korea. We saw a city on the other side of the border, complete with the North Korean flag and a statue of Kim Il Sung-the first leader of North Korea from 1948 (the small white thing in the middle of the first picture). it was pretty neat-but again there we're so many tourists around. (the little white thing is supposedly the statue of him). Once again, we we're given a short amount of time and taken back to the bus.
The last stop in South Korea was a train station, called the Dorasan station, which was built in the early 2000's, for the expected unification of the Koreas, but is only used by tourists on 4 trains per day. It is the last station in South Korea (although the tracks go to North Korea).

We then stopped at a Ginseng store where we we're told how great Korean Ginseng was. I went back to the bus.

After the bus dropped us off downtown, It was right at the Deoksugung Palace, which hasn't been used in a long long long time(since 1910 I believe) but there is still a changing of the guards ceremony three times a day, with 28 folks in colorful costumes banging on drums, marching, and repeating commands. I then went into the palace which was peaceful since there weren't many tourists there.

After that, I found a big English bookstore, read for a while, and went back to the hostel for a nap. I then went out for dinner. It got cold out, so I had my sweater and jacket on and I was still freezing.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:32 Archived in South Korea

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