The DMZ [Panmunjom, South Korea]

The DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone) is a strip of land running east to west along the 38th parallel separating North from South Korea. The border was created as a result of the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953 and is widely known as the most militarized border in the world.

I took a tour a few years ago with the USO’s Koridoor program. Other tour groups offer trips to the DMZ but the USO’s program was more comprehensive. You begin at Camp Kim and travel by bus to Camp Bonifas where you’re briefed by a member of the US military. Then you’re transferred again by bus to the Joint Security Area (JSA).

The entire time you’re in the DMZ you have a member of the US military acting as your guide. They will explain each site along the DMZ including the Freedom House, Conference Room, Bridge of No Return, and the site of Operation Paul Bunyan in 1976. You also have the opportunity to walk (or crawl depending on how tall you are) through the 3rd tunnel, one of the four known tunnels created by the North that crosses the border between North and South Korea. One of the last stops on the tour is Dorasan Station which, up until 2008, was running materials over the border to the Kaesong Industrial Complex. It’s now somewhat of a ghost town with tourists from Seoul being its only visitors.

 

1

USO offices at Camp Kim

 

2.5

Inside the DMZ

 

2

UN Command soldiers stand facing the North at the Joint Security Area

 

3

Entering the conference building

 

4

UN Command soldier inside the conference building

 

5

A tour group enjoying the opportunity to have their photo taken with the soldiers

 

6

Watching a North Korean soldier as he steps outside the North’s Panmungak (Panmun Hall)

 

7

Bridge of No Return

 

8

UN marker at Joint Security Area

 

9

The North’s “Propaganda Village”

 

For more information:

 USO: Koridoor Tours

http://www.koridoor.co.kr/bbs/board.php?bo_table=travelInfo&wr_id=221

Operation Paul Bunyan (Military.com)

http://www.military.com/HomePage/TitleHistories/1,10982,100001%7C854374,00.html

Visit Korea: DMZ Overview

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_4_1.jsp

Visit Korea: Joint Security Area

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264490

National Geographic

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/features/world/asia/north-korea/dmz-text/1