Sunday, August 5, 2012

BEDIA #5 The DMZ...

Visiting the DMZ was a rather surreal experience. Where we were living in Korea we could see North Korea without making much of an effort. It was right there.

To take a tour to the DMZ, we had to take the bus to Seoul, about forty-five minutes to the south. Once we found our tour bus, we traveled back north past where we had originally left, then on to the tour stops. 

There are many rules and regulations to visit the DMZ. One of those rules covers what you are allowed to wear. However, North Korea changes what they will allow frequently and it makes getting dressed in the morning an adventure. Just make sure you're wearing pants and a shirt with buttons and no logos and you should be ok. 

One of the first stops we made on the tour was the third incursion tunnel. This was a tunnel North Korea dug to try and sneak past the DMZ and launch a sneak attack on Seoul. Of course North Korea claims that it was a tunnel dug by South Korea. They're predictable that way. Once at the area around the tunnel, the tour guide led my group in to a theater where we watched a short video on the history of the tunnel. If I remember right, there are a total of five tunnels that were dug in an attempt to bypass the border security.  After the video we were led over to the access tunnel. After donning a hard hat (very necessary, trust me), we were led down the access tunnel. This tunnel was about 400 feet long and descended at almost 45 degrees. It was steep! At the bottom, the guide spouted off some facts I don't remember, then allowed us to head into the incursion tunnel. 

I had to walk hunched over to keep from smacking my head on the ceiling. There were spaces occasionally that were tall enough to let me stand up and rest my back. Chelsea and her parents eventually gave up and headed back to the access tunnel so they would have enough time to walk back up before our bus left. I wanted to see the Underground Border. There was a line waiting to look through the small window. 

In the wall was an archway walling off the tunnel. A one foot square peephole was installed in the wall. I had to look through from about 4 feet back because there was a roll of razor wire across the floor of the tunnel. To keep tourists from cutting themselves on the wire there were red Christmas lights wrapped with the razor wire. To the right of the peephole was a small access door, bolted shut and padlocked a couple times. Looking into the peephole I could see the wall on the North Side. It had a larger "window" and a door. The space between the two walls looked to be about 15 feet long. It was lit by a greenish light. I wondered what sort of contracts had to be drawn up to allow one of the soldiers to go in and change the lightbulb when it burned out.

Tomorrow I'll write about the last train station heading North and the Joint Security Area.

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