My dad, a history buff, upon hearing we were going to Korea, suggested that we visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone - DMZ. I wasn't too sure and the travel pamphlets looked intimidating but my mom assured me it was perfectly safe.
So we traveled north to the DMZ. The DMZ is a zone north and south of the 38th parallel north that is sort of a no-mans-land that acts as a buffer between North and South Korea. Each side guards against hostility from the borders.
We stopped in Imjingak to see the Peace Bell...
And the Freedom Bridge. It is an old railroad bridge that POWs crossed, returning to freedom after the war.
There are flags and messages pinned to the barricade at the end of the Freedom Bridge.
This steam locomotive was badly shot and left behind by the North Koreans.
We visited the Third Tunnel. Four tunnels dug into South Korea by the North Koreans in an attempt to invade have been discovered. This is the third one. The last one, the Fourth Tunnel was found in 1990! We weren't allowed to take pictures inside but we were able to walk down an incline into the tunnel to the first of three barricades that have been added.
North Korea claims it is a coal tunnel and there is charcoal "painted" on the walls as proof.
Aaron was pretty cranky after that excursion. He was too tall and kept hitting his helmet on the top of the tunnel.
At Dora Observatory you can typically see over to North Korea but it was too foggy to make out much. From this spot you can see the North Korean propaganda village - a fake uninhabited village designed to attract South Koreans to the North.
There was this line where you were not allowed to cross and take photos.
Our last stop was Dorasan Station. This rail station was built with the idea that someday North and South Korea would be reunited and one could travel north beyond this spot. But for now the trains from Seoul stop here.
Basically it is symbolic of hope for the future. No one boards a train heading north here.
I am glad we went to the DMZ. There is so much history to be remembered and it's so interesting. We could have gone to the JSA (Joint Security Area) in Panmunjeom but we had to sign up for it three days in advance and missed our chance. Next time.