Luke Cyca .com

Korean Demilitarized Zone

Here are the only three worthwhile photos I was allowed to take on a tour of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

The second photo shows a view from the Dora Observatory of what South Koreans call "Propaganda Village," a village that was created by the North when they were upset that the South was allowed to keep their previously existing village within the DMZ. These villages are only a mile apart, and are the site of remarkably childish rivalry. For example, the south village had a really tall flag poll, so the north village built a larger one — the largest in the world. Both villages once had loudspeakers pointed at each other emitting spoken propaganda and K-pop. There are also rumours of building facads to make each village appear even more prosperous to the other.

The last photo is Dorasan Station, the last South Korean train station before North Korea. This beautifully renovated station is supposed to symbolize the South's commitment to reunification, but I couldn't help but think it is mainly another showpiece of the South's wealth. The northbound tracks were reconnected some time ago, but the first train to cross the DMZ into the North did so only very recently. There seems to be hope for regular rail service between the two, but even so, this station seems overbuilt.

I also went into the third tunnel of aggression which was dug by the North but discovered by the South. It now has a few meters of concrete plugging it right under the demarcation line, but the southern section is open to visitors. It's only comfortable for really short people, though. I didn't go to Panmunjeom, which is the village that is actually built on the military demarcation line and sometimes used as a location for negotiations. It has a dress code with which I couldn't comply.

I read the above linked wikipedia articles with fascination before visiting the DMZ. Some of the anecdotes, such as the huge squabble over pruning a tree, are actually kind of amusing. There's no doubt that the North is ridiculous, but after this tour I can see that the South has done its share of childish taunting too.

Dora Observatory Dorasan Station
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Luke Cyca .com