Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The DeMilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Today was another eventful day…although, I suppose I should start off by including our adventures from last evening. Namsan Park is actually a mountain and one of Seoul’s most popular landmarks. Atop the mountain is Seoul Tower, which has a viewing area that overlook’s all of Seoul. Unfortunately, the winds were too strong to take a cable car up to the top of the mountain, but the group made it there anyway – some took a bus, some took a taxi, others hiked!

Here is a view from the observation deck of Seoul Tower.

That leads us to today, Wednesday, March 17th. We started off the morning by heading north to the North Korea/South Korea border, oftentimes referred to as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The DMZ is a 4km stretch of land (2km on the North Korea side and 2 km on the South Korea side) that is impassable and heavily guarded.

The tour took us to the 3rd Tunnel, which is an underground tunnel that North Korea created in order to invade Seoul. The tunnel is 73 meters underground and was discovered in 1978 – just 52 km away from Seoul. So far, South Korea has detected a total of four tunnels, the first being discovered in 1974 and the last in 1990! South Korea is certain that there are more tunnels, maybe even as many as 10, but they have yet to discover them. Unfortunately cameras were not allowed in the 3rd Tunnel, so I cannot show you pictures of this portion of the tour.

Next, we headed to Dora Observatory, which is the northernmost observatory in South Korea to see the North. The use of cameras and video equipment is very limited in the area; there was a marked line visitors were not allowed to cross. Thankfully, no one in our group took the chance to cross that “camera line.”

After the DMZ tour had concluded, we stopped for lunch at another local Korean restaurant. Here we had bul-gogi, which is a traditional beef dish. It was delicious!

The next stop was the War Memorial of Korea that housed memorabilia from the Korean War. It was a very impressive structure with a multitude of actual fighter jets and tanks parked on the grounds outside.

We concluded the afternoon with a walk to the Itaewon neighborhood where there are a lot of shops and street vendors. This evening we are very much looking forward to having dinner with Mr. Joo, a Kelley alumnus who owns several restaurants, one within walking distance to our hotel!

It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through our week here! Tomorrow we visit Cheil Worldwide, a marketing company, and Kyobo Life, Korea’s top life insurance company. We’ll check back in with you then.
(PS - it's snowing...brrr!)

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