I spent the morning visiting one of the most unique places on the planet, the Korea Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Security was super tight today because on Thursday North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the Yellow Sea.
The 155-mile long DMZ, located approximately 32 miles north of Seoul, was established on July 27, 1953 through the Korean Armistice Agreement. It is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula near the 38th parallel north that serves as a border barrier and buffer zone between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea).
Approximately 200 people reside in the DMZ. The inhabitants do not pay taxes, they get free medical care for life, and no military service. There is only one elementary school, so students beyond elementary school must leave. They need a permit and must be home by 10:00pm. Most of the inhabitants work in the soybean fields and ginseng fields. If you want to move out of the DMZ, you can only leave after 40 years old.
Kijong-dong, a potemkin or propaganda village, sits just north of the DMZ in North Korea.
Daeseong-dong, a village in South Korea sits just south of the DMZ.
Most of the places we visited were located in Munsan-eup, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea. On the tour, we visited:
•Korean Peninsula Ecological Peace Tourism Information Center
•Imjingak Pyeonghwa Nuri Park
•The former Gyeongui Train Line
•Prayers for Unification Wall
•Harry S. Truman Monument
•Bridge of Freedom
•Third Infiltration Tunnel
The Imjingak Pyeonghwa Nuri Park was built to console the refugees who left North Korea during the Korean War. Since 43,000 families were separated and no longer have contact with each other, older generation South Koreans come to this park on the weekends to reflect, remember, and cry for their relatives they no longer have contact with. The younger generation will play in the amusement park.
A North Korean defector was selling North Korean currency (won) in the park, so I purchased some. Our tour guide confirmed it is legitimate.
The Bridge of Freedom was built to liberate 12,773 prisoners in 1953. The bridge was used by South Koreans returning home from the North.
The 5,364-feet long Third Infiltration Tunnel was discovered in 1978. Its purpose was to be used to invade the south. When the tunnel was discovered, North Korea alleged that the south had built it for a surprise attack, but evidence points to the contrary.