This is one of the tours that everyone says you need to do before leaving Korea. No kids allowed, so I knew there was NO way we were going to get my mom to leave her granddaughter for a whole day. She had her favorite day of this vacation....a day home alone with Adeline all to herself.
The DMZ (demilitarized zone) is the 4km-wide zone that divides North and South Korea. As part of the tour, we visited the Joint Security Area (JSA), the area with the infamous slab of concrete, 18 inches wide, between the Koreas, with opposing soldiers staring at each other across the line. The picture below was taken while facing across the concrete slab (not visible) into the North Korean side. A PRK (People's Republic of Korea...North Korea) soldier is watching us from the portico of the white marble building.
Standing with a Republic of Korea (ROK - South Korea) soldier. The tallest soldiers in the ROK army, and all black belts in Tae Kwan Do, are specially chosen to police the JSA. This picture was snapped just before the soldier wrapped us all in a loving bear hug of international solidarity, planting a kiss on dad's cheek. Just kidding.
This is our vista from a security checkpoint, across the DMZ, to the North Korean village of Gijeong-dong, or what is known in the West as Propaganda Village. Huge speakers used to broadcast propaganda across the DMZ, telling of the "people's paradise." These are no longer in use, but this gave the village is popular name. The village is abandoned, manned only by a skeleton crew which turns some of the lights on at night to make it seem inhabited. The flag pole in the foreground is the tallest in the world, flying a PRK flag that is 31 meters long and weighing 600 pounds.
A PRK security tower at the JSA. PRK soldiers are inside watching us. Our US Army guide told us at least three times before stepping outside that gestures of any kind, especially international gestures of...er...defiance, were strictly prohibited. So we just looked and smiled.
At DMZ Tunnel #3. This was discovered in 1978 (or so), the 3rd such tunnel discovered accidentally by South Korean authorities. PRK soldiers tunneled to within 30 or so kilometers of Seoul before the tunnel was discovered. It was made to ferry 30,000 PRK soldiers into South Korea in 1 hour. Now it is a tourist attraction. This picture was taken before we descended into the tunnel. Pictures were not allowed in the tunnel itself.
A sculpture depicting the desire of both Koreas for re-unification.