Wednesday, August 3, 2011

DMZ Part 2

Our next stop was to Infiltration Tunnel #3.  There were signs all over saying that we should not take pictures, but Marshall took this picture of the diagram showing the layout of the tunnel structure going from North Korea under the DMZ.  We went into the visitors center, put on hard hats, and went straight down a long sloping walkway all the down into the tunnel that was secretly built by North Korea.  There are other tunnels that were discovered in various ways- this one was found after a defector told them about it.  The tunnel was about 2m wide by 2m tall, and in many parts you could not walk standing upright.  It was also pretty cool (temperature) down there!  It's hard to imagine what would have happened if these tunnels had not been discovered, or if North Korea has somehow successfully built tunnels that have not yet been discovered. 

The diagram of the tunnel.  I am only posting this picture because I feel that it does not endanger South Korea's national security to show something from what is essentially a tourist attraction.

See the NO PICTURES sign....bottom left.  Oops.  Also, No Smoking, and No Running.  Well, 2 out of 3 isn't bad- however, still a failing grade!

From there we went to the Dora Mountain Observatory, which was just a short bus ride away up a winding road.  This station is just on the South Korean side of the DMZ, and high enough to see over into North Korea with high powered telescopes.  It was a hazy day, and we knew we wouldn't be abl to see much- on a clear day it would have been much more interesting.

You could not take pictures from the edge, and you had to pay 500 won (around 50 cents) to use the telescopes.

The yellow line that you had to stay behind to take pictures.

After the Observatory we went to Dorason Station, which is the northernmost station of the South Korean rail system.  The railroad tracks leave here and continue on into North Korea, but no trains are allowed to pass.  This rail station is the largest, newest, most modern building- and gets no traffic at all.  I'm sure they hope that one day they will see trains coming and going filled with people headed North and South, but the day we were there it was empty.

In this map you can see how far people from South Korea could go by train if the rails through North Korea were opened.  They could travel all the way to Europe and the Middle East.

No one can go to Pyeongyang.  Maybe one day!  I would do it, if I were allowed to.

This Korail sign says 205km to Pyeongyang, 56km to Seoul.  It is hard to believe that all the people in Pyeongyang have no idea what they are missing down in Seoul!!  Two different worlds!

Optimism at its best.  "Not the last station from the South, But the first station toward the North".

President Bush came here during his visit in 2002 and signed a railroad tie.  Marshall was excited to see how many people named Mac also appeared to have signed it, or maybe they were vandals?

"May this railroad unite Korean families".

As the bus pulled away from the train station, we saw the border checkpoint where the only cars and trucks that are allowed to enter North Korea must pass through.  The road was empty (except heading South).

Us.  On a bus.


Anonymous said...

Train to depressing! Too bad you couldn't see in that weather. It really is a stark looking countryside.

Emily Cole said...

Wow, how very interesting. I think it would be neat to see sometime... kind of like the difference between West and East Germany when we were there in High School. I couldn't believe the line which you had to stay behind to take pictures! Wow - they're a little controlling, huh?

Tara CNM said...

Wow, this really brings home how present and painful a reality the separation of the two Koreas is for the Korean people. Was Dorasan station built during the time a few years ago when it looked like the North Korean government was going to collapse in anticipation of reunification or did the South Koreans just build it as a symbolic gesture? About the photo line, isn't that just there to prevent anyone from doing anything that might give the North Korean military an excuse to bomb the DMZ? They really will jump at any pretext, particularly if it will distract from domestic problems. Thanks for posting all of this, Mary. I'm learning a lot vicariously.