When I told friends and family we were going to South Korea many people jokingly asked if we would be going to North Korea as well.
Let’s just say getting a tourist visa would have been a bit of a challenge so the closest we could get to the North was to visit the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ). The DMZ is the area of land either side of the Korean border line and measures 2.5 miles wide by 160 miles long.
Booking a day tour we were collected early in the morning from our hostel in Seoul and made the 50km-or-so journey by bus.
On the trip we first visited the Dora Observatory where you can look through binoculars across the DMZ into North Korea. I felt that this was quite a strange experience to be honest…
The other main attraction of the tour was going into the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel that lies beneath the DMZ. Two metres wide and 1,634m long, the 3rd tunnel was discovered in 1975 and would allow 10,000 soldiers to march from the North into the South. The dynamite blasting lines, which you can see inside the 3rd tunnel, indicate the tunnel was built towards the South from the North. In all there are four tunnels that have been discovered.
Other highlights on the tour include seeing an area of fencing that is covered in peace message and flags, an abandoned train which acts as a symbol of the Korean war and a visit to the Dorasan train station.
Dorasan Station, which is on the railway line that connects South and North, is much like any other station in the world, the main difference here is that no trains run through. It is purely a status symbol and has become a tourist attraction for being ‘not the last station from the South, but the first station towards the North’.