DMZ Tour

Back in July, a big group of my friends and I went on a tour of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).  All I really knew about it at the time was that it was where the dividing line is between North and South Korea.  It ended up being a really incredible experience, and I learned so more much about the area than I expected.  We booked a full day tour through the USO (an organization that supports the U.S. military).  We gathered for our tour at one of the army bases in Seoul early on a Saturday morning to begin our tour.
 
Our tour guide was the cutest Korean girl.  She basically talked to us for the whole hour long bus ride to the DMZ, and I really enjoyed listening to everything she had to say.  On the way there, she gave us a bit of history about Seoul, and also North Korea.  About halfway through the journey, she started to point out the high barbed wire along the Han River (big river that runs through the middle of Seoul).  She said the river is constantly monitored because of the North’s threats to poison the river, since the water runs right into Seoul.  North Korea also has control of some of the dams, which prompts fears for massive flooding attacks. 
 
I really can’t say enough to really convey what it was like there.  There were various checkpoints where our guide had to show all of our paperwork/passports/etc.  There were many areas where we were forbidden to take any pictures or videos.  There were some really touristy areas where we had to fight the crowd.  Most of the DMZ area that we saw was very scenic, rustic, and beautiful (more on that later).  There were lots of U.S. and South Korean military with big guns.  We were warned that there were active minefields nearby. 
 
Here is a brief summary about the area from the USO website:
 
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The Military Demarcation Line is surrounded by the Demilitarized Zone under the provisions of the Armistice (cease-fire) Agreement signed on July, 1953. The Military Demarcation Line runs 155miles and separates the South and the North. Southern and Northern boundaries of the DMZ are located 2km apart from the MDL.

The Demilitarized Zone, which consists of the area between Southern and Northern boundaries of the DMZ, was established to serve as a buffer zone to prevent any means of provocative action and collision between the South and the North.

Because of its low population density and restrained development, the civilian off-limit area was able to maintain excellent level of natural environment. Along with the DMZ, the area recently is highly valued for environmental resource and uninterrupted ecosystem.

The areas we visited on the tour included: Third Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observatory, Dorasan Station, and the Joint Securities Area (JSA). More details about this soon!

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