It has been an exciting first full day here in South Korea! This morning, we took a one hour bus ride to the De-Militarized Zone, which is the border between North and South Korea located about 50 kilometers north of Seoul. Our tour included a visit to Imjingak Park, the Third Tunnel, Dorasan Station, and the Dora Observatory, where we were able to view North Korea through binoculars. Upon the end of our DMZ tour, we then drove back into Seoul on a brief tour of the city that included the Blue House, which is the residence of South Korea’s current president Park Geun-Hye. In the evening we were able to meet up with a group of Calvin Korean Alumni over dinner at a local restaurant. Tomorrow we well transferring over to Seoul National University Club, worshipping at Onnuri Church, and then spending some more free time in the famous Gangnam district (sound familiar?) in Seoul with the Korean Calvin Alumni Group.
Our group at Imjingak Park, a small resort located within the De-Militatized zone. North Korean defectors come here every year to celebrate Chuseok (the Korean thanksgiving day), as they are unable to do so with their families still in North Korea
This is the Freedom bridge, which was used to exchange prisoners of war between the North and South at the end of the Korean war. The other side of the bridge leads into North Korea
A bridge leading to an exhibit at Imjingak Park
This wall, facing North Korea, is full of messages from South Koreans who still have relatives in North Korea, split apart after the Korean peninsula was divided in two as a result two separate governments being created at the end of WWII with the south embracing capitalism and the north embracing communism
A sign alongside the rode warning that there is a minefield behind it
An exhibit symbolizing the reunification of the two Koreas
Our group at another exhibit, just before entering the third tunnel
This is a diagram explaining the Third Tunnel, which was an infiltration tunnel dug by North Korea under the DMZ into South Korea. It would have allowed thousands of North Korean soldiers per hour to bypass the minefields and attack South Korea until it was discovered by South Korean troops in 1978. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos in the tunnels
A view from the Dora Observatory where all the land on the horizon is North Korea. Unfortunately, we were only allowed to take pictures behind a no-photography barrier so this was the closest picture possible. Although they are not visible in this picture, North Korean villages and a 525 foot tall flagpole with the North Korean flag could be seen in the distance through the binoculars seen in this photo
Our tour guide explains landmarks in the De-Militarized Zone
We next visited Dorasan Train Station, which have trains that run directly to Pyeongyang, the capital of North Korea. However, with relations between the North and South being poor the last several years, the trains are no longer running due to the tensions. Even though the trains are not running, tourists can still buy train tickets to North Korea although it is no more than a souvenir until relations improve and the routes are opened up again
Dorasan Station: “Not the last station from the South, but the first station to the North”
A group lunch with our wonderful tour guide
The Korean BBQ was outstanding!
A shopping street we visited near our guesthouse with just about anything you can think of at a fraction of the cost you would get back in the States. What more could one ask for?
A group dinner with Calvin graduates living in Seoul
After our dinner we headed over to another restaurant and had sweet red bean ice cream for dessert
Green tea ice cream with sweet red beans. Very interesting indeed!
Walking the streets of Seoul