South Korea & Japan: Temples, Shrines & Seaside Treasures

Day 6 – Sunday, October 16, 2022 - Seoul; Visit the DMZ

After breakfast, we began our trip north to the DeMilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Pam wanted to be there early so we left the hotel at 7:00. Because today is Sunday and the DMZ was closed for two days because of the rockets shot from the north, she expected there to be many people visiting the site.

We followed the Han River north and saw many ducks, geese, and cranes. This is a natural fly-way and also the time for many migratory birds to be traveling. Nearing the border, close to the 38 Parallel, there were South Korean military installations with frequently spaced guard towers, spotlights, and several layers of coiled barb wire fencing along the roadways and along the river.

Pam gave us a comparative review of the differences between the north and south as far as living conditions, economy, and government support for citizens. It is amazing to think of all of us in this day and age with so much and the people of North Korea starving and in such oppression.

When we arrived at the DMZ area, there were already people standing in line. Pam told us she would try for tickets for 9:30, but we ended up having to wait until the 11:30 tour. While we waited, we looked at the exhibits, the commemorative displays, and the many memorials to all of those who fought for freedom for the Korean people. One of the most interesting memorials was two young women who were “Comfort Women” – young Koreans girls who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army.

The day was cool, 58 degrees, gray and cloudy; as somber as our visit to this forbidden territory. There were many young people here from all over the world today, such an encouraging sign that they are interested in the history of the Korean Conflict.

There was an actual bunker on the grounds and we were able to visit this dark sanctuary. When we emerged, Pam gave each of us a ribbon and we were able to write a message for peace and hang it on the barbed wire fence separating the two countries.

At 11:30 we boarded the shuttle bus that would take us to the actual DMZ. Upon arrival, a young SK military policeman came on our bus and checked each of our passports with the manifest and looked us in the eye to verify our authenticity. On the drive to the tunnels, we saw that all of the fences along the sides of the road were marked with warning for land mines. Very dangerous to humans as well as animals in the area, there has been extensive work to remove the thousands of mines still in the area.

Pam led us right into the tunnels, trying to avoid the large group of tourists that was coming behind us. We trekked down into the South Korea dug tunnel that led to the tunnel of aggression dug by the North. We had to wear hard hats, and we were happy that we did and several members of our group hit their heads in the low North Korean tunnel. The South Korean military has found 4 different tunnels, all dug since the truce was signed. South Koreans believe that the Kim Regime is still being aggressive and trying to infiltrate their neighbors to the south.

After leaving the tunnels we had a few minutes for photos and then we went to the Dorasan Observatory, situated on top of Mount Dora in Paju. We had 30 minutes to observe the DMZ from above and to gaze across the border and into North Korea.

Of course, the last stop was the gift shop at Unification Village and a break to use the restrooms. We got back on the shuttle and drove back through passport control again and back to our own bus at the Welcome Center. By now it was 2:00 and time for lunch. We stopped at a Korean BBQ and enjoyed another traditional meal.

The drive back to Seoul was slow as so many others were on the roads this Sunday afternoon. Pam was able to move our welcome dinner back from 6:00 to 7:00 so we all hustled to do any last-minute shopping or site seeing. Vic and I arrived back at our room to sort photos and tell our story of our day at the DMZ.

Our Farewell Dinner was at nearby restaurant specializing in beer and fried chicken. We all thanked Pam for her efforts and for helping us these past 6 days. This has been an incredible learning experience and we hope that more people can come to South Korea to support these wonderful people.

Accommodations: Pacific Hotel -- Meals included: B & L

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  Comments

What an exciting and sobering day! So appreciate your travel logs - I know firsthand how time consuming they are!

Cheryl Anne Vieira   October 16, 2022 - 9:55am

Wow! What an interesting last day. Thanks for the food pictures, not like anything I have experienced. Safe travels. Love to you both.

Dee   October 16, 2022 - 6:56am

When did you have time to write the commentary and the post photos? It's unbelievable!

Pam   October 16, 2022 - 5:56am
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Gennie and Vic at the DMZ

Gennie and Vic at the DMZ

Security Along the Border

Security Along the Border

Peace Ribbons

Peace Ribbons

View of North Korea

View of North Korea

Lunch

Lunch

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