Weekend in Seoul, DMZ and War Memorial

On Sunday I went on a guided tour to DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone separating South and North Korea. It was a half day tour from 8-14:30. Back in Seoul I strolled though Itaewon and visited the War Memorial Museum. I took the last plane back to Busan 19:20 after a long and hot day.

One of many observation posts. The bus tour up to DMZ took about one hour. Half an hour drive outside Seoul, the barbed wire fence along the Hangang River began. It felt a bit surreal with manned lookout posts every 100 m so close to the city.

 

Me at the Freedom Bridge where they used to exchange war prisoners.

 

The bridge is obviously closed to civilians, this is as close as South Koreans can come to their relatives in the north, and all the notes and letters are probably greetings to missed family members.

 

One of the 2 entrances to the "3rd Infiltration Tunnel" discovered in 1978. The North Koreans managed to dig into South Korea and it's estimated they would have been able to transport 30.000 troops per hour towards Seoul had it been completed. Last year, part of the tunnel was opened for visitors. It's was a weird feeling walking down there. As most places in the DMZ no photos please!

 

Dora Observatory. Inside the building was an auditorium with panoramic view of DMZ and North Korea. Unfortunately it was a hazy day and again no photos except outside behind a yellow line which meant that you could not get all the fences and lookout posts in the picture.

 

North Korean mountains in the distance. The soldier who briefed us here told us there was no trees left on the mountains as they had been used as energy.

 

Last stop of the tour was Dorasan Station, quite appropriate the last stop of the Seoul railway that will connect the two Koreas in the future, as the brochure says. Generally, I feel there is an optimistic will and hope for reunification here in South Korea with many small steps being taken, in special here in the 60 years celebration of the liberation of Korea. DMZ was a very interesting "tourist attraction" although it seems to make no sense that a country with a people of the same genes and history is divided "just" because of ideologies.

 

Back in Itaewon, the tourist street in Seoul, and Hamilton Hotel where I stayed.

 

The street is packed with people selling souvenirs, clothing and much more.

 

Itaewon intersection. Note the exact signposting of distances, toilet 48m whereas the tourist information is  2m further away - typical Korean.

 

War Memorial in Seoul, an impressive and interesting museum. I finally got the insight into the Korean War.

 

The museum is located opposite the Ministry of National Defense and next to a large US military base.

 

A B-52 bomber outside the museum.

 

The outdoor exhibition included a large selection of military planes and weapons.

 

A Lonely Planet photo.