Souvenir train tickets and a commemoration stamp in my passport :)
First station toward the North... maybe... some day.
Photo op with a South Korean soldier!
Our final stop on the tour was Panmunjeom, the location of the Joint Security Area (JSA). It is only 800 meters in Diameter. North and South Korea have guard posts and buildings here. Security guards are forbidden to cross over to the opposing country.
First, we saw a very informative slideshow presentation about the DMZ...
...and then we had to sign a waiver stating that we could possibly die on this tour!
The blue buildings are straddling the line between between North and South Korea.
The buildings in the distance are North Korean.
This is a photo of a photo - North Korea's view of where we were standing in South Korea.
Guards on both sides stand watch, staring at each other.
North Korea was watching us carefully with binoculars and cameras. We were warned not to point, make gestures, or expressions that could be used by North Korea as propaganda.
Some of the guards stand in a position with half of their bodies hidden behind the buildings for protection and so they could signal their commanding officers with their hidden hand if needed.
Building T-2 is the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Conference Building.
This is where all the meetings between North and South Korea take place.
This conference table is on the dividing line between South Korea and North Korea.
We're standing in North Korea! I'm doing my best mean-guard impression.
The Military Demarcation Line is simply marked by short, white posts.
Both North Korea and South Korea are allowed to have one village located within the DMZ to help bridge the gap should reunification ever occur. South Korea's village is called Daeseong-dong and has a population of over 200 South Koreans living in it. The residents there are exempt from Korean taxes and Korea's mandatory two-year military service.
North Korea's village is called Kijong-dong but it's more often referred to as "propaganda village". It was built in the 1950's to encourage South Korean defection. The buildings are simply concrete shells without windows or interior walls. Until 2004, massive loudspeakers played continuous propaganda broadcasts toward the south.
The Bridge of No Return was used for the exchange of prisoners at the end of the Korean war in 1953. The prisoners from each side were brought to the bridge and made to decide which country they wanted to be in. If they decided to cross the bridge, they could never go back.
"We risked our lives for the South Korean dream. But many of us feel like boat people even if we are in the South. I sometimes ask myself a dangerous question: If war breaks out, should I fight South Koreans or should I shoot at my relatives in the North?"