Tag Archives: Korean War

Crossing the Border: Our Tour of the DMZ & JSA

You often hear news of foreigners being imprisoned by North Korea. But did you know there’s a place where you can safely cross the border? (Mostly safely.) I’ll get to that later.

After months of living in Seoul, I finally got to visit the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) and JSA (Joint Security Area) in Panmunjom. I shouldn’t be surprised that Koreans have made the DMZ a tourist attraction, but it’s still amusing to me that they allow steady streams of tourists into such a highly sensitive and politically charged area. In fact, our tour guide noted that, despite its name, the DMZ is the most militarized area in the country.

We booked a full-day tour that took us to the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, the Dora Observatory, the Dorasan Station, the Freedom Bridge, the JSA and famous MAC Conference Room, and the Bridge of No Return. (Will had already been to the DMZ, but he hadn’t done the full tour, so some of this was new to him, too.) Here’s our spiffy tour bus.

Tour bus FTW!

The DMZ is only about an hour away from Seoul. At a certain point during the drive up, I started noticing barbed wire fencing and guard posts along the Hangang (Han) River. If you look across the river, you can see the mountains in North Korea, which our tour guide said are bare because they still use wood for a lot of construction. She also said they believe the dark green patches are places where the North Koreans are hiding weapons.

Barbed wire fencing and guard houses along the Han River

First views of North Korea

Another guard house Continue reading Crossing the Border: Our Tour of the DMZ & JSA

Chilly strolls through Seoul Forest, War Memorial

Winter has arrived in Seoul, and it seems like just overnight! The other morning we woke up and it was snowing flurries. Today the snow actually stuck to the ground. I say overnight because the temperatures suddenly dropped into the 20s and teens. B-R-U-T-A-L when you’re out and about on foot. The wind makes it feel like it’s in the single digits. I know, some of you are midwesterners and love this stuff (cough, Will, cough) but not this island girl! I guess it’s a good excuse to bundle up — let me tell you, vanity goes out the window when you’re walking those final blocks back home and the wind’s hitting your face and your fingers are about to lose all feeling — yesterday I wrapped my Irish wool scarf up to my cheeks. The other day I simply looked silly. (Mainly because I don’t have proper winter gear, yet.) Whatever it takes:

For whatever reason, that first really cold day I decided to visit Seoul Forest, maybe get to pet some of the “wild” deer they have roaming about. Continue reading Chilly strolls through Seoul Forest, War Memorial