Friday, December 4, 2009
Seoul: Demilitarized Zone
I took time to visit the Demilitarized Zone, the active war area between South and North Korea.This was also very interesting and a little bit sad. The overall feeling around this area is very tense, my passport was checked a total of four times by south Korean solders and my camera once.Honestly, I don't completely understand what is going on, the history of the Korean war, and the tour did not really explain the history either. But the feeling I got from the tour and talking with local people is that the war is one thing, the bigger issue is the war has divided families, and these people really want the two Korea's to unite so families and friends and re-unite.The above statue shows this.Above is actually North Korea, in the background. On the day of my tour, North Korea decided to re-value it's currency, basically dropping two zeros off of each bill. So a 1000won note become 10won. This caused chaos in North Korea, everyone had to change there old money in for new money and had only three or four days to do so.Part of the tour, a UN bus takes you up to about 25 meters from the North Korean border with South Korea, an area called the JSA (Joint Security Area). At this area, the north and south have meetings to talk about whatever is on there minds. Also from this area, there is a viewing platform, where you can look out over the JSA and see the north and south watching each other.But because of the North Korean currency issue, I think there was meetings going on in the JSA and the military police would not let us go to the platform to view the JSA. We were only allowed to sit in the bus near the JSA.The south built a really nice train station near the boarder at Dorasan, with simple hopes that when the north and south re-unify, they can quickly use the station to visit each other.But it's cool, the re-unification plan has the backing of George W. Bush, he signed the above rail tie, it says "may this railroad unite Korean families."