“The visit to the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom will entail entry into a hostile area and possibility of injury or death as a direct result of enemy action.”
These words were part of a document we had to sign prior to entering the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Although you can’t help but feel a bit of the jitters while reading it, the sucker for history and politics in me wasn’t gonna chicken out and let our trip to South Korea pass without swinging by the DMZ.
Given its name, the Korean DMZ ironically has the highest military concentration on earth; making it the most heavily militarized border. But aside from specific areas with high-security presence, it felt safe and generally peaceful, albeit treacherously. Getting that close to an ongoing and proper conflict was truly an eye-opener reflective of the lengths human beings will go just to fight for and/or defend what they believe in. It really is a must-do experience while in Korea.
We took a tour by Koridoor Tours that set us back by only 80 USD each. It was a good deal considering it was a full-day (7-hour) tour that was extremely insightful and allowed us to check out most of the venues open to the public. But our luck ran out in the end as some situation stopped us from entering the conference room wherein you could be face-to-face with North Korean soldiers and momentarily “be” in the hermit kingdom.
Camp Kim USO
DMZ Theatre & the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel
Joint Security Area
Kijong-dong, North Korea a.k.a. “Porpaganda Village”
Bridge to Nowhere
Nightcap in Hongdae’s Taste of the Moon
335-5 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu (마포구 335-5서교동)
+82 2 332 9202
In the evening, we met up with Hansang, a Korean who was my schoolmate in London and whom I hadn’t seen in about five years. He took us to Taste of the Moon where they specialize in organically and locally brewed makgeolli (a fermented mixture of boiled rice, wheat, and water) which is an alcoholic drink native to Korea. It was so damn good that we couldn’t have cared less about the platter of deep-fried veggies that tasted like…deep-fried.