The Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, on the Korean Peninsula is one of the world’s most unique locations. It is a place where the land still holds many stories about a people’s history and a peculiar culture that has, to this day, remained largely hidden from sight.
After the historic inter-Korean summit was held on April 27, South and North Korean heads of state declared their wish for an end to the Korean War and for the establishment of lasting peace.
While visitors to the DMZ will witness first-hand the physical and mental scars that have been left by the more than 60-year division of the Korean people, recent world events have Koreans feeling hopeful that spring is coming soon to the Korean peninsula.
Just 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Seoul, the DMZ spans 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) south and 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) north of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).
The “DMZ Tour” offers everyone a special opportunity to witness a unique stretch of North Korea that has been suspended in time. With extra shuttles running through June, visitors will enjoy the added convenience of easy access this summer. Keep reading for some of the highlights on the DMZ Security tour.
1. Dora Observatory
Peer across the DMZ into North Korea from the Dora Observatory, located on the hilltops of the northernmost part of the MDL.
The Dora Observatory commands a view of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and the North Korean propaganda village Kijŏng-dong, or “Peace Village.” Through the installed telescopes, you will be able to see the North Korea that is out of view for most people. Spot the guards of the North Korean army and perhaps a North Korean farmer.
The trip to the Dora Observatory itself is very scenic. The tour includes a ride on the DMZ Peace Train that runs north from Yongsan Station or Seoul Station towards the border. The train passes by the Imjingak Pyeonghoa-Nuri sculpture park and crosses the Unification Bridge to arrive at Dorasan Station–the furthest north one can travel in South Korea by train. From here, the DMZ tour continues by bus to the Dora Observatory.
The Dora Observatory is open daily, except Monday, 10:00 – 17:00
For bookings, call: 031-954-0303
2. The Third Infiltration Tunnel
It has been discovered that the North Koreans had dug tunnels under the DMZ into South Korea to conduct raid operations. Four such underground tunnels have since been found.
Among them, the Third Infiltration Tunnel was found near Dorasan in 1978. The 2-meter-wide tunnel is 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) long, and could have enabled 30,000 North Korean soldiers to cross into South Korea every hour. It’s proximity to Seoul shocked the world when it was found.
The Third Infiltration Tunnel is a 10-minute walk from Dora Observatory. You can walk inside the tunnel and see the conditions under which the North Korean armies worked. Don’t forget your safety helmet, and that you will have to submit your phone as part of the photography prohibition.
3. Closer to Us by Weekend Bus, Camp Greaves
The U.S. Armed Forces were stationed at Camp Greaves for 50 years after the Korean War. After they left, it has operated as an experience program facility for peacetime security since 2013.
It had the first youth hostel in Korean restricted areas; it was redesigned from one block of U.S. officers’ quarters and can accommodate up to 240 people.
Sightseeing buses will run during the weekends in June to help individual tourists to go out on a day trip. It is required to bring your ID card.
“Descendants of the Sun,” a cross-border love story popular in China and Korea, was shot here in 2016.
Camp Greaves preserved various military facilities—including the gym, the living hall, and the officers’ quarters—in their original state, and thus offers a daily soldier experience program. It also hosts many exhibitions and cultural events.
Shuttle Bus from Imjingak Pyeonghoa-Nuri to Camp Greaves: June to October, 2018, weekends (Saturday & Sunday).
Visit the website or call: 031-953-6970
4. The Symbol of Peace, Imjingak Pyeonghwa-Nuri
Imjingak Pyeonghwa-Nuri is a cultural space complex devoted to peace. It was designed to transform Imjingak, traditionally a symbol of division and the Cold War, into a symbol of peace and reunification.
With an outdoor stage and grass hill capable of seating 30,000, it offers sculptures symbolizing peace, fields of colorful pinwheels, and is considered a scenic spot for photography. A steam locomotive that stopping running during the Korean War, is also a main attraction, along with and displays of ribbons praying for the reunification of North and South symbolizes what the DMZ is. The space is also used to host cultural art programs and events including performances, exhibitions, and movies all year round.
5. The Self-Healing Jusangjeolli Cliff
Designated as a National Geopark, Jusangjeolli Cliff located in Imjingang River, Yeoncheon-gun, was estimated to be from 500 thousand to 350 million years old. Jusangjeolli Cliff spreads out along the river, and has beautiful views. If you’re looking for some healing, Jusangjeolli Cliff is the place to be.
6. Soy Sauce Marinated King Crab and Grilled Freshwater Eel in Imjingang River
You won’t want to miss the fresh food cultivated in its pollution-free and clean environment—soy sauce marinated king crab, grilled freshwater eel, and spicy freshwater fish stew in Imjingang River. Particularly the soy sauce marinated king crab is considered a great representative dish of the Imjingang River. You cannot help admire its flavor and delicacy the moment you taste the crab meat with soy sauce; for the connoisseur, it is essential to try it with rice on crab shell.
Moreover, grilled freshwater eel, considered one of most representative Korean foods, has a melt-in-your-mouth, but chewy texture; it has mainly been used as a boost for those in poor health. Spicy freshwater fish stew, which is Korea’s characteristic stew, is just icing on the cake.
7. Joint Security Area (JSA)
The JSA is located on the MDL in the DMZ, and is thus considered one of the most special areas of the DMZ. Known as ‘Panmunjeom’, the JSA has served as a venue for meetings as well as those coming and going between North and South Korea. If visiting here, you should take a picture—it’s like a scene from a movie.
DMZ Tourist Information : http://english.gg.go.kr/dmz-imjingak/
Call: 1330 DMZ train : 1544-7788
By Lee Ji-seong