Traveling Korea: The DMZ

My final day in Seoul was a busy one. Even though we didn’t arrive to our hostel until well past midnight, we woke up before the sun to take a trip to the DMZ.

Before I left America, someone I know urged me to go to the DMZ if I had a chance. Jared flying into Incheon was the perfect opportunity to take the tour with someone else.

I booked our tickets through Viator, and selected the cheapest option: a six hour tour. I knew it would be touristy, but it was something I really wanted to do.

Touring the DMZ

Imjingak Park and Dorasan Station

Taking a six hour tour of the DMZ sounded overwhelming at first, but it turns out that a good two hours of it was spent on the bus. The tour included hotel pick-up, and Jared and I were the second stop. After we boarded the bus, it was a waiting game. Once everyone was picked up, we headed straight to the first stop.

The first stop on the tour was Imjingak Park and the Freedom Bridge. Before you look around, you can grab a coffee or something to eat at one of the few places inside the main building. Walking around, there were quite a few monuments to look at and you can get a good view of the Freedom Bridge. It was nice to get off the bus and take a look around before quickly moving onto the next stop.

The next stop on the tour was Dorasan Station. At one time, an intercontinental line ran from this station all the way to Europe. Now, visitors can see the map of the old line, the abandoned tracks, and grab some souvenirs from the gift shop.

The Dora Observatory and the Third Infiltration Tunnel

The two final stops on the tour were the Dora Observatory on the top of a Mt. Dora and the third infiltration tunnel. From the top of Dora Observatory, you can see into the demilitarized zone and North Korea on a clear day.

Thankfully, we had good weather. We were able to see the South Korean village that sits inside the DMZ and the other abandoned village that was once used by North Korea to shoot propaganda videos.

Before heading into the infiltration tunnel, we watched a short film about Korea’s recent history. The North had dug many infiltration tunnels, and some experts suspect there are many that remain undiscovered. We would only be seeing the third tunnel.

The tunnel was deep, and the walk down and back took about thirty minutes. At the end, you can see the barriers built by the South Koreans to keep the North Koreans out of the tunnels.

The Last Few Hours in Seoul

Once we emerged from the tunnel, we boarded the bus back to Seoul. The trip took about an hour, and once we got back, it was time to find lunch. We headed to a vegan restaurant in Insa-dong called Oh Se Gae Hyang. The restaurant served traditional Korean food, only veganized. It was definitely one of the best meals I’ve had in Korea.

After lunch, we made one last stop at Gyeongbokgung, a large palace in Seoul. It took an hour to walk around the entire palace. Once we finished up, it was time to get on the subway and head back to Jinju.

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