The Ol’ DMZ

31 08 2008

So this is the beginning post of my orientation things, I didn’t really have much time during them so I will try to write all about orientation, starting with going to the DMZ, between North and South Korea (it’s a strange place).

The DMZ is the “border” between South and North Korea, which are actually still at a state of war, and only have a cease fire to stop the fighting that started with the Korean War. So while I was at the DMZ it would have been possible for the war to resume, which would have been dangerous. There have been several incidents where fighting between the ROK army (Republic of Korea/South) and the KPA (Korean People’s Army/North) has actually occured. These were explained to us by the soldiers that guided us around the DMZ. I won’t go into those, but I will say that being at the DMZ was a very strange experience.

For many years it seems like North Korea has been such a dire enemy and it was a bit odd to see some of the KPA soldiers in person. Wasn’t so much frightening as just unsettling. I even went onto North Korean soil, in the conference room where the UN flag is flown. We also saw ‘Propaganda Village’, where the world’s biggest flag is. It is called ‘Propaganda Village’ because no one actually lives there, even though there are buildings and every night propaganda is played over speakers to tell the South Koreans to defect to the North. Soldier of Fortune magazine also put a $1,000,000 bounty on a square meter piece of that flag, which the American soldier guiding us told us, and we all laughed and tried to figure how to do it, but unfortunately it is pretty difficult.

Anyways, I think this is a good time to show off the pictures as they are pretty interesting themselves.

The large building in the back is the main North Korean building and the blue ones are conference rooms

A KPA soldier watching us (we weren’t allowed to point or make any gestures towards them)

The cement thing going across in the middle is the exact location of the border, and those are two ROK soldiers

That is our American soldier that guided us around the DMZ… he was pretty cool

This is the main conference table and a U.N. flag on the right. All the soldiers there are actually working for the U.N. but the Americans are in charge of them. I was also technically in North Korea when I took this picture.

All the ROK/US soldiers at the DMZ wear these armbands. I just thought they looked pretty cool and thats the only real significance of that.

Here is ‘Propaganda Village’. That is the big flag, and the nice looking town that nobody lives in.

These now rusty signs mark the border between the countries, and they are positioned about every 50 meters along the entire border.

Here is a picture of North Korea, taken from a vantage point.