Visiting the North/South Korean DMZ

23rd November 2015

The idea of visiting a still active war and minefield between the two divisions of Korea seems really interesting but in reality it was the exact opposite. I had looked online at going to the DMZ and decided I wasn’t going but this weekend just gone I ended up going out of curiosity.

DMZ Train
DMZ Train from Seoul to Dorasan

Getting to Dorasan

There are tour companies that do day trips to the DMZ. I decided to just go there by myself. I got to Seoul Station for the special DMZ train to Dorasan, put on for the tourists really early to make the most of the day. For some reason, it looks like they got Elton John in to design the interior of the train. It’s as if they wanted to distract the tourists that they are going a giant mine field by jazzing up the seat covers and putting hearts on the roof.

The Third Infiltration Tunnel

The train stops about an hour into the trip and you have to go through some security checkpoint to make sure there were no spies. I managed to get to Dorasan Train Station after about an hour and then onto some bus. The driver took everyone to some underground tunnel where the north apparently tried to invade the south. Nobody was allowed to take photos at most of the places at the DMZ and as you can imagine it is a tunnel. That’s it. After going down into the tunnel and leaving immediately, I slowly walked back up the access tunnel and iOS said it was 22 flights of stairs to get out.

At the site of the tunnel, there is a load of other buildings but I don’t care about listening to propaganda. I would rather listen to the much more imaginative propaganda from the North Korean side. I did try to go for a walk about outside of the boring tourist area, but some really angry men with guns didn’t look too happy so I didn’t chance it. I just sat and waited for the bus to leave, watching loads middle aged of mainland Chinese spitting everywhere.

DMZ Tank

So far the day was really boring (and so has this post in all fairness) and the next stop on the bus goes to a viewpoint on top of a hill where you can see the “Freedom Village”. You hear a lot of bad things about the north, but the countryside looks amazing. Stood on top of the hill you can see across the border and you get a really good overview into the north. I didn’t manage to get a good photo of the landscape but seeing just the view was worth the journey.

There is a souvenir shop on the hill adding to the weird factor. What minefield/warzone has a gift shop? Either way I got some rice wine that someone assured me is from North Korea, but I doubt it. After buying my “North Korean” Soju, I headed back to Dorasan Station for the train back to Seoul.

Dorasan Station again is a strange place with 5 platforms and immigration. I’m guessing they are preparing for reunification, but that isn’t happening any time soon.