Have You Ever Wondered What the DMZ Was Like? Part 2

Today, we will be visiting other sections along the DMZ. I hope you read yesterday’s post to get a good start on the lay out of the land. Visitors to the DMZ must comply with the strict instructions. You may only take pictures when and where you are told. You must dress appropriately, no written messages on your clothing, for example. You can not get your passport stamped in North Korea. You can not speak to or make gestures to any personnel from the Korean People’s Army. You will remain in a group and follow all instructions. You will not carry firearms, knives or any weapon. And you will not consume alcohol 12 hours prior to visit. Now that we have the instructions, we may proceed.

What is Tunnel 3? The entrance looks like a train station. But, it is a museum, of sorts, with a fascinating display.

Tunnel 3

A mock entrance scene for Tunnel 3.

Tunnel 3

On September 5, 1974, a defector from North Korea informed the South Koreans about one of the underground tunnels built under the DMZ by the North Koreans, to be used for an invasion into South Korea. The South Korean Military built an interception tunnel to find the tunnel of the invasion route. It took 3 months to build the interception tunnel. Today visitors can visit the tunnel up to the concrete blockade that was installed to prevent the North Koreans’ use of it. It is all downhill at first and very steep. One wonders if you will be able to make the climb back out. I thought it interesting that there were coal smudges on the wall to disguise the tunnel as an abandoned coal mine. No photographs were allowed inside the tunnel.

Tunnel 3 Diagram

Now we are going to the Dora Observation Point………

Dora Observation Point
Dora Observation Point: View of DMZ and North Korea

Here is a platform where you can gaze out into North Korea……. The sites you are looking at are posted on an overhead display board. It is weird to think that you are looking at them and the North Korean Military is looking back at you.

From left to right here is the display board…….

Dora Observation Point: View of DMZ and North Korea
Dora Observation Point: View of DMZ and North Korea
Dora Observation Point: View of DMZ and North Korea
Dora Observation Point: View of DMZ and North Korea

And here are actual photographs taken……..rather bleak.

Dora Observation Point: View of DMZ and North Korea

This is a fake village used for propaganda on the North Korean side.

Dora Observation Point: View of DMZ and North Korea, Gijundong (Propaganda Village)
Dora Observation Point: View of DMZ and North Korea

These are the actual blue buildings we saw this week on TV when Kim Jong Un crossed the line into South Korea and met in these buildings for their talks. The white building in the background is in North Korea and is called Freedom Hall. There is an exact same building on the South Korean side (the Peace Hall), but no photographs are allowed of that. More on that in a minute. See that raised curb between those buildings?

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Military Demarkation Line Between North and South Korea

That is the line between North Korea and South Korea. The buildings are half on one side and half on the other. People go there for meetings between the two sides.

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Military Demarkation Line Between North and South Korea

Not a very big space…… when inside the buildings, the tables are long, with half on one side (North Korea) and half on the other side (South Korea)

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Military Demarkation Line Between North and South Korea

Now about those big white buildings that are EXACTLY the same on either side of the DMZ. Why is that? Their heights and widths must be exactly the same, so they do not obscure the view of either side! On August 18, 1976 there was the Axe Murder Incident.  In a mission called Operation Paul Bunyan, two UNC (United Nations Command) guards were murdered by the North Koreans, when they attempted to prune a tree in the DMZ, that was obstructing the view of a South Korean Guard Post. The North Koreans had been notified that the tree would be pruned.  As the pruning commenced there was shouting to stop from the North Koreans and when the pruning continued 30  North Korean Guards started to attack. Using the axes brought to prune the tree, the two UNC guards were killed and  8 North Koreans and Americans were injured.  Now, buildings erected on either side  are exactly the same in height and width, with every detail matching, to prevent incidents of this nature. That is also why you don’t see trees or anything else between the two sides. It is very bleak for a reason.

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum
United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum
United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum

Originally, there had been a neutral area, with no boundary border, dividing the North and the South. However, after the Axe Murder Incident, a partition was indicated marking the Military Demarcation Line on September 6th, 1976. Two concrete slabs were placed between the conference buildings and white posts representing the line were placed in other areas. All the activity was heavily watched by both sides.

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum

The Armistice Agreement allowed the two Koreas to each have a single village inside the DMZ.  A small farming village, that had always existed in the area, and was heavily bombed during the war, was reconstructed by the South Koreans and the remaining villagers and their families were allowed to live there. The North Koreans built a similar village on their side, but it remained uninhabited, with only a few caretakers and a few guards, until recently.  Contact between the two villages is strictly forbidden.

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum

Here are some more interesting posters inside the museum…….The original site of the blue buildings which were created on September 6, 1951 as a conference area, was originally the tavern site in the small village of Nulmoon-ri. Truce talks were held here.

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum

On July 27, 1953, after two years and 765 meetings, the two sides agreed to a new conference site designated by an oval-shaped area. At this time Communist guards freely crossed the border, while executing their security operations.

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum

On November 23rd, 1984, a Soviet visitor to the DMZ on the North Korean, side suddenly ran south, crossing the DMZ line and shouting for help. A twenty minute battle ensued and left 3 North Korean guards and one UNC guard dead. The defector was a reporter, who later took refuge in the U.S. We have seen more incidents like these in the last few months……….when North Korean guards tried to defect to South Korea. The area is always ripe for action.

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum
United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum

Well let’s take a time out to eat after so much information………..there are also restaurants here……smorgasbord style to accommodate everyone!

Lunch, Smorgasbord Style

You can find french fries and Coke everywhere, can’t you?

Lunch

Our last stop will be the Dorasan Train Station; the Northernmost Train Stop in South Korea. I’m not sure I am ready to travel any further…….

Dorasan Train Station: Northern Most Train Stop in South Korea
Dorasan Train Station: Northern Most Train Stop in South Korea

But, the Peace doves represent what it is all about….. Will there now be peace between the two countries? Time will tell.

Dorasan Train Station: Northern Most Train Stop in South Korea

And final look goodbye……..

United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum
United Nations Command Joint Security Area Panmumjom: Visitor Center Museum Peace Bell

I hope you have enjoyed our visit to the DMZ…….See you next time, on another adventure.

One Comment Add yours

  1. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Thanks for your two informative posts about the DMZ. I’m never likely to go there and I learnt a great deal.

    Like

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