Trip to DMZ, Korea: "End of Separation, Beginning of Unification"5:19 PM
"End of Separation, Beginning of Unification"
|Demilitarized Zone, Korea|
Right before my eyes, I saw and felt the hope of reuniting the two (2) Koreas, divided by a line with opposing ideology. The word so near yet so far is the perfect term to describe the countries of North and South Korea.
When I've planned my 10-day-I-can-do-this-the-hell-with-the-fact-that-I-might-starve-trip, visiting the Demilitarized Zone popularly known as the "DMZ" was on top of my list. I just find it fascinating that a country sharing the same blood and ancestors, sharing the same land can really be divided just because they have contradicting beliefs. My realization, Korea is indeed a wounded country. From my limited knowledge of World history, I believe Korea is a collateral damage of the Cold War.
It was just on 26 March 2013 when we visited the DMZ and took glimpse of the life in North Korea. Yeah it was 4 days before a state of war was actually declared by Kim Jong Un. When the news broke on March 30, I was still in Korea and it really saddens me, yet I know, DMZ is there to remind us that there is still hope.
What is DMZ anyway? DMZ is an area (2km from the boarder of each country) which is preserve by both country and in fact one of UN-protected World Heritage Sites. DMZ divided the two Koreas in half and in fact was created as part of the Korea Armistice Agreement between North Korean, People's Republic of China, and United Nations Command forces in 1953.
Anyway, the visit to the DMZ was really promising. My favorite part was the trip to Dorasan Station.
|Dorasan Station, DMZ Korea|
Dorasan Station is a railroad going to the North Korea. The railroad is not operational, but it was a ready infrastructure in case the war between two Koreas ended. "Not the last station from the South, but the first towards the North." That line really moved me, I felt the goosebumps when I've read that, and in fact made me teary-eyed. I'm not exaggerating, it was not only me, my best friend also felt the same. The fact that there's a railroad towards the North, it means that there's still hope for the two countries to unite.
Another thing, as shared by our tour guide, should the railway to the North was already operational, it will be connected to the major railways such as the Trans-siberian railway in Russia and will be part of a bigger railway system called the Trans-Eurasian Railway Network. How cool is that right?! You can already travel Russia and Europe by train.
|Trans Eurasian Railway Network|
Other tourist spots include the Dorasan Observatory where you can take a glimpse of life in North Korea through telescopes. They are very strict as regards taking photos. In fact, there is a designated area for photo taking. Thanks to my 40X zoom camera that I was able to take a photo and glimpse of North Korea from afar.
|North Korea view from Dorasan Observatory|
Also included is the visit to the third infiltration tunnel. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos of the tunnel. The tunnel was actually a busted operation of the North decades ago. The North had planned of bombing the South by creating the tunnel. The digging was camouflage as mining activity when in fact, the North was preparing the course of a canon attack. According to our tour guide, the operation was revealed because of an engineer from North Korea who shared the information to the South Korea. Thank God, South Korea was spared and both Koreas were spared to another bloody battle.
|Scenes at the DMZ|
Package cost to DMZ
The package to DMZ visit was only 46,000 Won or around 1,800 Php. It was really worth it. In fact, if you are three in the group, you can avail the discounted rate at 41,000 won. We were picked up to our hostel and were dropped off to Myeong-dong, another famous place in Korea for shopping. There are two (2) schedules available, one is from 8:00 AM- 2:30 PM and the other is in the afternoon from 12:00PM to 6:00PM. We took the morning tour as advised by our hostel manager. And by the way, just a reminder, if you are thinking of taking this trip, be sure that you are in your walking shoes because you will do a lot of walking and trekking, particularly in the infiltration tunnel. Another reminder, bring at least one (1) bottled water on your trip.
I really hope that the chaos in Korea right now will be resolve peacefully. It might be impossible right now, and it will be really hard considering the great difference in the belief and ideology of North and South Korea, but I really hope that someday, they will unify or if not at least live peacefully without a fear that a war may actually broke.
P.S. If you are a fan of Korean Drama the King 2 hearts, you might actually remember the photo below. :)
|King 2 Hearts's shooting area|