Saturday, May 19, 2012

DMZ Tour

 DMZ stands for Demilitarized Zone which is a strip of land (2 kilometer wide) across the Korean Peninsula which was established in 1953 as a part of the armistice agreement. Its practically a 2 kilometer wide “No Man’s Land” running between South and North Korean that was once same peaceful nation. Obviously, DMZ must be the world’s most heavily armed border which makes it even harder for the tourist to travel freely. Subsequently, there are many things that you mustn’t do. Few examples are: you mustn’t make any eye contact with North Korean Soldiers, wear ripped clothes or make any sort of hand gestures. You need to have your passport, Alien registration card or they provide you a card to display to visit DMZ depending on the places you are visiting. There are 6 different locations from where we can visit that many people are not aware of. 
Needless to say the history lesson and stories one hears are much different. May 18, 2012 I made my third visit to DMZ and it was different from my first two visits as always. This time it was a tour organized by ISF which is a non-profit organization approved by the ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Korea, founded to serve the foreign students studying in Korea, to build better relationships and mutual understanding between the nations, even after the foreign students return to their countries. We started our trip by taking the bus at Shinchon (City hall) and reached for lunch at the military base. 

History Museum

After lunch, there was a specification on various tanks owned by Korean military. They explained about the characteristics of tanks such as speed, engine, endurance, weight and price which was most surprising of all. They explanation was in Korean but they also had an interpreter who translated Korean to English which made the understanding much easier. We were also allowed to sit on the tank and take photos, we were also taken on a 2 or 3 minutes tour in a tank wearing a military hat which was very different experience for females and non-military. The most interesting experience was, they allowed us to shoot the magazine and I had my first four shots which was pretty amazing for me and other foreign students. 
At 2:00pm we moved to an observatory. Since DMZ is more than 250 kilometers lone, there are various observatories. We reached Yeolsoe Observatory tower 2A which was built in 1998 by the infantry Division Key to raise awareness on unification and alleviate the homesickness of Korean citizens who originated from the North. During the 15 or 20 minutes briefing, one of the private explained all the details about the DMZ and we were allowed to ask questions. For those who goes there for the first time should keep in mind that they are not permitted to take photos. You must ask for permission before you take pictures.  

Shooting experience
After the briefing, we visited a little history museum right in the basement of the observatory where we could write wishes for the unification of North and South Korea and hang it there along with other millions of wishes made by the DMZ visitors. We also had a walk along the South Korean barbed wire fence. After the observatory, we moved to Yeoncheon, which was in touching distance from DMZ. Yeoncheon is the center of the Korean peninsula. Yeoncheon offers you beautiful, peaceful and scenic sites with various festivals are held from time to time. For more information, click