empresspatti (empresspatti) wrote,


During our time in Korea, Leslie and I decided to take a day trip to Panmunjeom to tour the DMZ.

It was a strange, scary and sad place. The Chinese Peoples’ Liberation Army signed an armistice in 1953 but the South Korean delegates refused, so the two Koreas are technically still at war. There were armed guards everywhere, tense checkpoint moments and the realization that this conflict still affects all Koreans, all the time.

We booked a tour with a local hotel, got up early and found ourselves on a barely heated bus crammed with Chinese tourists. Seoul and the whole urban jungle gave way to the one of the last vestiges of the Cold War and possible site of WWIII.

Our personal armed South Korean soldier herded us from site to site at the DMZ.

We were told repeatedly not to point, as that would be provocation to the North Korean guards watching us from across the border. We saw the Joint Security Area, North Korea. The guard standing in the (freaking freezing room) was South Korean.

His right side represented South Korea, his left side, North Korea. Naturally, I scampered over to his left side so that I could be in North Korea (neener, neener). I was summarily marched back to South Korea by our guide. I’m a credible threat.

View of North Korea

There were so many sad memorials = each ribbon represents someone lost.

War Memorial

Korean Memorial

The Bridge of No Return all barbed wired, covered with ribbons.

Even here, all roads led to the gift shop. I brought a coffee cup, t shirts and a necklace with a bullet for Evan. Then I noticed the Popeyes!

I was glad we went – and was glad to leave, if only to thaw out. Leslie, true to form, was sound asleep as soon as the bus started homeward. Girlfriend has never lasted more than 15 minutes in a moving vehicle before she passes out!

Tags: the dmz
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