This afternoon I went to North Korea.

View of North Korea

View of North Korea

I somehow convinced my wife to go on a tour of the DMZ, De-Militarized Zone, and JSA, Joint Security Area. We hopped on a bus at 7:45 this morning and started our trek north to the line.

The first stop was to the Peace Park. On the ~1 hour ride there from Seoul our tour guide Sunny gave us history of Korea and the Korean War. I have to admit I don’t know a ton about the Korean War. At least now I know the basics + a little more.

The second stop was to The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel. It was about 1/5mi downhill into the tunnel. At the bottom you are about 170 meters from the North Korean border. The hike back uphill is rough.

Next we went to Dorasan Station. This is a train station the South built in hopes of connecting South Korea with Europe if/when there is ever reunification between the two Koreas. Sunny stressed how important it is for unification sooner rather than later because the younger generation doesn’t feel the same need to become whole again.

Train Station to North Korea (with Sunny our tour guide)

Train Station to North Korea (with Sunny our tour guide)

South Korea hopes this train will take you to North Korea's capital one day

South Korea hopes this train will take you to North Korea’s capital one day

We then split off from Sunny and that tour and ate lunch back at the Peace Park and joined the JSA tour.

This tour guide wasn’t nearly as well-spoken or pleasant as Sunny.

We were taken to Camp Bonifas. Here we got a 15-minute slideshow presentation about the JSA. It was difficult to understand our tour guide because of her poor English and because half of our group had a Japanese tour guide given the same presentation on the other side of the room.

This is the Joint Security Area. Yes, that is a North Korean soldier on the stairs of the large building in the background. In the foreground are South Korean soldiers.

This is the Joint Security Area. Yes, that is a North Korean soldier on the stairs of the large building in the background. In the foreground are South Korean soldiers.

We then switched buses and headed into the JSA. We were rushed through the building and into the Conference Room. Here we were rushed again but were told we could take pictures with the South Korean guards.

In the Conference Room you walk in from the South Korean side. Down the middle of the building is the border between North and South Korea. When you cross the midpoint you are in North Korea. We crossed. Snapped a picture. Then were hurried back out of the room.

Me standing in North Korea

Me standing in North Korea

Outside back at the main building we stood and faced the conference rooms and the North Korean building. Here we had a moment to take pictures of it. We even got to see a North Korean soldier standing guard at their building.

We headed back to Camp Bonifas. We passed the Bridge of No Return. Then out of the JSA and DMZ. Now I’m on the bus headed back to Seoul wondering how on earth I was able to get my wife to agree to go to one of the most tensest places on in the world. We made it though. Time to find some Korean BBQ.

Bridge of No Return

Bridge of No Return

– Josh