Friday, November 4, 2011

Off the Map

Today I went off the map. Well, off Google Maps at least. I can attempt to show you where I was today, based on the GPS coordinates from my camera but when you look at Google Maps you will see a distinct lack of features because today I was in the DMZ - JSA (Demilitarized Zone - Joint Security Area). The border separating North and South Korea.

Below is a selection of photos that I took. More photos can be viewed in my Flickr photo album.

PFC Wilson our military guide and guard.

ROK (Republic of Korea) soldiers facing the North Korean building. Look at the grates on the ground. Find the point where the grates are separated by a low cement curb. That is the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). It marks where South Korea ends and North Korea begins inside the DMZ.

North Korean soldier watching us with binoculars. The window immediately to the left of the soldier, where the curtains are parted, contains video surveillance equipment.

The blue UN building we entered. The ROK soldiers were there only to protect us. When the tour group leaves, they return inside the building that was behind us.

UN to the left, North Korea to the right. I was standing on the North Korean side.

The door behind this guard leads to North Korean territory. We were forbidden from walking past this guard. It was locked, from the inside, preventing North Korean soldiers from entering while we were there.

North Korean village Kijongdong aka Propaganda Village. The flag pole stands 160 metres and the flag (which wasn't moving at all today) is so large it weighs almost 600 lbs. PFC Wilson pointed out that they believe the buildings are completely fake with painted on doors and windows and no floors in them. On the days when North Korea has electricity, he said that at night the top "floors" of the buildings are brightly lit with the light getting dimmer as you look down the buildings.

Outpost 3. Site of the 1976 Axe Murder Incident. To the right of the blue building is the Bridge of No Return where the POW exchange occurred. Behind the building is North Korea.

Bridge of No Return.

After leaving the JSA we headed to Dora Observatory. Unfortunately the visibility continued to get worse and it was next to impossible to get any further pictures of North Korea. We then headed to Infiltration Tunnel 3 where we were told not to take pictures in the tunnel. So I took a video.

I only managed to get one useful photo of the 300 metre tunnel that leads to the Third Tunnel. It was not bad walking down but was quite difficult walking back up.

The last stop of the tour was Dorasan Station. The northern most train station in South Korea. It was built with the idea that after reunification of Korea it would be used as the main "gateway" between the two countries. It basically sits empty (other than tourists), with no trains passing through, waiting for that day.

My ticket. 500 Won ($0.45). It's only a commemorative ticket.

Tracks to North Korea
Tracks leading off to North Korea.

Cleaning the unused portion of the station. The definition of "make work".