Monday, January 25, 2010


The DMZ is a 4 km wide strip that bisects the Korean Peninsula. This building, a couple yards from the actual start of the DMZ, was the closest I got to North Korea during the tour. The Korean soldiers present instructed us not to take any pictures beyond the yellow line. Despite taking this picture facing away from the DMZ I was still given a warning look.

The back of the building, which serves as a kind of lookout post and educational center.

A hazy shot into North Korea. The tall structure just above the binoculars is a huge flag poll constructed by the North to showcase one of the world's biggest flags (so large that it must be taken down in the rain because it cannot support its weight when wet). The buildings in the foreground are part of an unoccupied model village constructed to impress the South. It was a bleak sight.

All throughout the day-long tour we were shown symbolic monuments dedicated to peace and reunification. Some of them were interesting and meaningful. After a while the large number of them reminded us of the the intractability of the problem. From then on they were more awkward to view than anything. This plaque sat in front of a glass case that contained rocks from history's greatest battlefields. 86 battlefields in 64 different countries.

This locomotive is a relatively new addition to the DMZ tour. It was heading south with military supplies when the Korean war broke out. The whole train was blown to bits but the conductor was somehow able to escape. The man, now in his 80s or 90s, was there when the locomotive was rescued from a restricted area near the DMZ and brought here.

Avalon Staff and Students

The entire staff (Korean teachers, foreign teachers, TA's, front office staff) at the start of our winter semester. We're standing in the foyer of our main floor.

Four of our brightest students playing games before class. I could keep up but it wasn't easy.

The ever present peace sign. Not sure Korean kids can take pictures without them.

350 Climate Action Event @ Han River

The Han River is such a geographically significant part of Seoul, and something that I reference so often in everyday speech, that I couldn't help jumping down a couple boulders to stick my finger in it.

A wedding "boat" that hosts after wedding dinner parties, and possibly the actual ceremony as well. Hard to see but swan boats are swarming around the slightly confused swan babies circling mom.

The reason for the trip to the Han was to take part in a day of global climate action put together by My group of friends and I were the only foreigners there and had a great time, shaking hands and talking climate action with dozens of enthusiastic Korean college students.

The girl in the white american flag sweatshirt is the president of a large college environmental organization called UNEP Angel. She was idealistic and inspiring.

Me with a group of students. A couple spoke great English, and were disappointed that I didn't speak more Korean.

The penguin, a mascot for the group, ran around this huge flee market where the event was being out free hugs and getting people to write encouraging sticky notes about the need for environmental action.

If you assumed the girlfriend wasn't doing much peddling here, you were right.