Travel - Korea

Korea Trip – DMZ Day tour

DMZ Day Tour

I joined a day tour by KTBTour advertised in KKDay. The most popular package includes entering the Join Security Area (JSA), where the border between South and North Korea locates. Unfortunately, the JSA is not open to public during that period due to the tension between the two area. I believe you can find many interesting stories about the DMZ online so in this post I will not explaining their history in details.

Actually I find it hard to figure out the gathering location. I joined the Chinese tour today so when I reached there I try to look around to see if there is any other Hong Kong people or Taiwanese but it doesn’t seems anyone was waiting there. So I am a bit worry since this was my first time joining this kind of tour and I waited for a while. Suddenly, the tourist guide come and ask me in Chinese whether I am joining their tour. Actually it took me a while to realize she is a Korean because her Chinese is so good. Also, I found that she look like the actor 채수빈. I entered a small van to join another 6 members and our adventure started.

Imjingak (임진각 臨津閣)

Our first destination is Imjingak. Although Imjingak is not located inside DMZ, it is the closest tourist point to the DMZ hence a must-go location.

임진각 – ★★★★☆

After visiting Imjingak, we are not taking the same van. Instead, we switched to a bigger bus to enter the DMZ. We got on the bus and joined another English tourists group. The funny thing is that I completely didn’t understand what the English tourist guide is speaking. Luckily I am in the Chinese tour.

The 3rd Tunnel  (제3땅굴 第三地道)

The first stop of our real DMZ journey is the 3rd Tunnel, which is one of the tunnels North Korea soldiers dug in order to invade the Southern part during the war.

To enter the DMZ, we have to pass through a security checkpoint where a soldier will get on the bus and check the passport of each passenger. After we went inside, we were not allowed to take any photo along the road because there is a lot of military facilities. Also, according to our tour guide, there are many mines on the side of the road set up during the war and still a lot of them haven’t been spotted out.

We already can see the long queue at the entrance when we arrived. Originally we planned to take a group photo at one of the decoration outside but due to limited time we have to queue for the 3rd tunnel first. After 30 minutes of waiting, we finally can get inside.

제3땅굴 – ★★★★☆

Before entering the tunnel, you have to put all your belonging into a locker and do a security check. It is also compulsory that you need to wear a helmet provided (or your head will get hurt, believe me).

As expected, only a fraction of the tunnel is opened to public (so that you will not be able to go to North Korea!). At the beginning, you have to walk down the slope for a distance in order to reach the ‘real entrance’ or the tunnel because the tunnel was not completed by the North Korea soldier and the endpoint is still under the ground. And Yes it also means you have to walk up slope for the same distance when you go back. Actually, the slope is quite steep. Luckily the good thing is there is another option to ride on a train to get to the ‘real entrance’.

Although the official description said the tunnel is 2m in height, I feel the actual height is much less than that. In addition, there are reinforcement infrastructure which I think the actual height is around 1.6-1.7m. If you are tall, you may find a bit difficult to walk inside the tunnel. Also, since there are too many people inside, the walking speed is very slow… Once you reached the deepest part, you will find a secret text there but I won’t tell you here now. The returning route is actually more dangerous because when you try to walk fast, you always forget about the obstacle at the top. My head hit the ceiling for a few time during my return but the helmet saved me.

Dora Observatory (도라전망대 都羅展望台)

Our next stop is the Dora Observatory, where you will be able to see the territory of North Korea through the telescope they provided. Actually the only thing I could see are those buildings but they looked usual. Also, I spotted a large banner on one of the hill with some words on it. However, it is too far that I couldn’t see clearly what is written there.

도라전망대 – ★★★★☆

Dorasan Station (도라산역 都羅山車站)

The last stop within DMZ is Dorasan Station. Dorasan Station is a train station in South Korea which is the closest to North Korea. The cross-border train stopped operation and now the only train operated in this station is the DMZ peace train which departs once per day from Seoul.

도라산역 – ★★★☆☆

The DMZ visit ended there but we still had one more stop for the day tour. So we will switch to our original van after we pass through the security point. This time, the soldier didn’t check our passport one by one but only counts the number of people inside the bus. We stopped right outside of the security checkpoint to wait for our driver. After about 30 minutes, our van finally arrived and we felt very embarrassed because we delayed the departure of the English tour group for that long.

Lunch @ Traditional Restaurant

We then went to a traditional restaurant arranged by the tour. It looks traditional but the taste is not good… Perhaps I prefer modern taste…

Provence Village (프로방스 마을 普羅旺斯村)

At the last attraction of the DMZ day tour, we visited is Provence Village, which is a French styled romantic village. All the building inside are stylish, natural and beautiful. I really enjoy this place.

프로방스 마을 – ★★★★★

My most favourite location is these 5 Steps of Love, imagining it would be such a romantic moment to walk through this with your beloved one.

Our DMZ day tour ended here as we went back to Seoul.

This series of posts recorded my trip to South Korea during April – May 2019

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