One Day DMZ Tour: National History and the Korean War
※ Please, be noted! Due to African Swine Fever, the DMZ tour is temporarily closed and tour agencies are running alternative tours instead.
Recently the news covered the meeting between North-Korean leader Kim Jeong-Eun and South-Korean President Moon Jae-In on the border, decades after it was drawn between the two countries that used to be one. The DMZ, short for the Demilitarized Zone has become a famous tourist spot. The popularity sky-rocketed when the two representatives met and the video went viral. Ever since then history buffs and adventure seekers have been dying to go on the one day DMZ Tour.
What is the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)?
Aside from being a still active border, it makes apparent the wounds of the Korean War. During the war, thousands died and a civil war divided the country. The DMZ is the border between South Korea and North Korea formed because of the Armistice Agreement among the United Nations, North Korea, and China to end the war.
The DMZ tour is completely safe and many tourists have experienced it without complications. However, you can feel the tension on the border with the tanks, landmines, and intimidating soldiers with black sunglasses and guns who always seem to be ready to attack. There have been many unfortunate incidents and events on the DMZ border which almost led to a possible war again.
Things to consider when booking the DMZ Tour Korea are as follow:
Advance booking is ideal
Our number one DMZ tour rule is to book your visit ahead of time. Ideally, as soon as you settle on your dates to visit Seoul. To begin with, this can be because DMZ tours book up quickly and spots are limited. Another reason is that for security reasons, you must book it at least 3 days in advance in order to get a security clearance. DMZ visits from Seoul run Tuesday through Friday, with the exception of special political occasions and amid military events. There’s no way of knowing ahead of time when these ones off cancellations will happen. Visits can even be canceled the day of. It’s imperative to keep in mind that the DMZ zone is still a functioning military zone, and military exercises trump the tour.
Plan which DMZ tour you want to explore
- A DMZ tour stops at the Dora Observatory, Dorasan Street, and visits a tunnel that was dug to transport spies into South Korea. All fascinating stuff. But, It does not stop at the JSA, the Joint Security Area.
- The JSA Tour makes a stop at the Mt. Odu Unification Observatory. You can see a clear view of North Korea as it takes you into the blue conference room that reaches across the MDL, or the Military Demarcation Line, which straddles both North and South Korea.
Your passport should be with you at all times
You have to provide your passport at least two days before your scheduled DMZ Tour. As it is a military border your passport will be checked and you are expected to show it every time it is asked from you by your guide.
Pack light and dress conservatively
There is a strict dress code policy in which ripped jeans, commercial, and camouflage clothing is not allowed on the DMZ tour. Also, the North Koreans watching can take pictures and be pretty judgmental of the clothes people wear.
Also, you have to leave your bags behind in the bus in many places due to security concerns, so don’t bring your stuff that you might not be able to leave behind when requested to.
On the JSA section of the tour, due to the volatile nature of the border, you will be asked to sign a waiver which states that no one is not responsible for accidents, injury, or even death. It sounds scary but the fact is that tons of tourists are visiting the JSA daily under the military escorts.
What you will see on the DMZ Tour Korea
1. Joint Security Area (JSA)
The highlight of the whole zone: the Joint Security Zone (JSA), known as the Détente Town of Panmunjom, the Truce Village (or Panmunjom in the media). It is the exact place in the DMZ where two Korean pioneers and associates meet and where the peace talks were held in 1951, as well as the Truce Understanding which was marked a long time prior. The JSA is presently under the security of North and South Korean and United Nations military forces. What makes the JSA so fascinating is that it is the only place in South Korea where you can get so close to North Korea without starting a conflict.
2. Imjingak Park
Opposite to the pressure that you feel in the JSA, there is a carefree and cheerful vibe in Imjingak, the next stop on your tour. Also, the stop has gotten to be popular for tourism because there are hundreds of photographs and various authentic artifacts from the Korean War on display. It’s the most amazing part of the whole DMZ Tour.
3. Bridge of Freedom
The Bridge of Freedom has gotten its title from being built as a walkway with the reason of trading detainees at the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953. At the Bridge of Freedom, you’ll note a bunch of colorful lace streamers with lines of notes connected to the barb wire border fence. These messages are to the prisoners from their loved ones.
4. DMZ Theater and Exhibition Hall
The DMZ Theater and Show Hall are inside the DMZ Historical center. You will have time to browse the theater and exhibition. The location displays technology from the war, as well as the horrific effects of fighting through a 15-minute 3D documentary video. Furthermore, you’ll have a chance to gain a more profound detailed understanding of the region. Above all, this stop contains the whole essence of your DMZ Tour Korea.
5. Dorasan Station
The South Korea government built Dorasan Station, a railroad station on the Geyongui Line, with the purpose of connecting South Korea’s railroad infrastructure to the North’s and ideally the rest of Asia. Unfortunately, due to the palpable tension between the two nations, civilians can’t use the train the South to the North; it has never been used except for the reunions of families separated by the war.
Near Dorasan Station, you can visit Dora Observatory where you can see North Korea by using the onsite telescopes.
The one day DMZ Tour is a full package to help you know more about the history of the country, the war, and its repercussions that are felt by its citizens of both nations to this day. It was a war that broke a country into two with people dead and traumatized on both sides. However, since 2018 things are changing and many aspects around the border have changed. So if you still want to feel the history of the safest yet volatile border in the world, then book your tickets to the One Day DMZ Tour Korea as soon as possible.
Written by DY & Jay
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