Monday, February 05, 2007


I know I visited this place mid-December but I thought the pics were still interesting. The De-Militirized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea (or as I should say Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) respectively) is a truly fascinating and scary place.
You are only allowed to take photo's at specifically approved points. This is the railway station built in an effort to reconcile. Unfortunately it's never been used. The ROK will quickly correct if you try and say it's the last station in the south as it's purpose is to be the first step towards reunification. This is the site of a tunnel found very close to Seoul with many of the DPRK's army involved in the digging. It officially doesn't exist and is denied by the DPRK's government. It's strange being somewhere that doesn't exist.
You can't actually take any photo's in there but me (from left to right) and fellow Geochangers Phil, Martyn, Kara, Megan and Jack did enjoy looking silly in our hats.
This is the train that takes you into the tunnel. The tunnel is full of painted black rocks which apparently is meant to be coal and DPRK's reason for digging. One problem... in order to find the tunnel the ROK dug through granite and it's difficult to find coal in granite. In fact, it's impossible.
When the ceasefire was agreed (technically their still at war but the last shots fired were in the ninties) this tiny train station was the humble point of a trade of prisoners.
It has been named freedom bridge.

You can see through to the other side to the North and where the transfer took place. It's frighteningly jagged and empty.

They get a little funny if you try and break the rules.
This is where the first sight of many loved ones was founded.

This bridge is called the Bridge of No Return. It's basically unguarded and anyone who wants to be a traitor can cross it. However you will be shot immediately and often if you decide to take a round trip.
This land is basically no mans land. Literally. No man has set foot on this ground for 50 years. This is agreed by both sides. It is the scene of many a koreans death, often at the hands of his relations as families were split by the war. Out of such chaos and sadness has become a nature preserve home of some of the worlds rarest animals.
That flag you can see in the bag ground is the home of a propaganda village. The only village you can see of the DPRK without breaking flight regulations. The village is perfect in almost everyway and in stark contrast to the stories of dictatorship, starvation and poverty you may have heard. I say perfect in nearly every way because it's actually a ghost town. No one lives there and the only people you will see are paid to keep it looking fantastic. The only purpose of this village is to prove how great the DPRK is.

Looking out and hearing the stories is a solemn experience.

These headquarters are actually where all of the treaties are signed. The building is half built in the DPRK and half in the ROK. Technically I have stepped onto North Korean soil. (for a few seconds til I saw the guards watching me.)
This table is where the action happened. That soldier will not move unless touched. We are advised to take photo's from a safe distance as his psychologically prepared for war. When you see the armed guards outside jeering at each other from both sides you can understand why.
You are not allowed to make any gesture at all. The main problem is pointing which will be used as propaganda and slander against the ROK because thats where we were standing.

So I bought myself a little souvenir. Never thought I would pay for a bit of barbed wire, but this is a definate reminder of what we saw. I wish I could have taken more photo's.

This is the declaration I had to sign to go on the tour. It basically say's if I get shot it's my own fault. If you want to read it click the picture, tilt your head, and if you want to make me laugh send me a picture of you doing the hokey cokey.


[eric] said...

Excellent photos.

I saw a documentary on the DMZ once. I think I remember something about soldiers from the DPRK and the ROK just standing at one place staring at each other with defiant looks like statues, or like meaner versions of Buckingham Palace guards.

I don't know if it's just me, but half your photos won't load, no matter how many times I refresh. :(

Devil Mood said...

Oh hell, I forgot about your birthday! Sorry, Steve!
I hope you had a good one :)
All the best!xx