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.

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