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Korea Sparkling 4th Event Tour To The DMZ- Brushing with the cold northerly winds

July 25th marked the Korea Sparkling 4th event tour, bringing together tourists and residents from all walks life to set up for a one of a kind experience to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ.
This tour wasn’t your run of the mill tour to the DMZ either. On the cards was a trip that brought the group to the mid-west border, an area were visitors can actually see a good stretch of the DMZ, unlike most tours to the DMZ section closer to Seoul.


Yeolsoe Observatory

After a two-and-a-half hour bus ride, the group arrived at the Yeolsoe observatory for their first brush with the North. The Yeolsoe observatory got its name from the 5th infantry keeping watch on the area. Arguably, Yeolsoe observatory is the best place to get up close to the DMZ. Only a few meters separate you from the eerily peaceful grounds of what has now become a sanctuary for wildlife. Looking over this expanse of empty land, one has the impression of looking at silence itself. Despite its unspoiled nature and eerie stillness, this is no place to take a walk – landmines are everywhere.

The walking tour along the fence separating the south from the dangerously peaceful DMZ is the big draw of a tour to Yeolsoe Observatory. Unfortunately for our group, due to heavy rainfall, the grounds along the fence had become unstable and the walk had to be cancelled. Under normal conditions, visitors write their thoughts and prayers on ribbons and tie them to the fence. Military officers also dispense a briefing to visitors explaining briefly the DMZ and the surrounding area. A notable location nearby is the White Horse Mountain, where thousands of Korean, UN and Chinese soldiers perished during a ferocious battle in October 1952.


Infiltration Tunnel #2

After a nice meal of bibimbap, the traditional Korean meal of rice, vegetables and red pepper paste, our group happily headed towards their second stop of the day, the infiltration tunnel #2. Infiltration tunnels are tunnels dug by the North Koreans underneath the DMZ in order to infiltrate/invade the South. So far four such tunnels have been discovered and it is believed there could be up to twenty similar tunnels. Tunnel #2 was discovered in March 1975 and is located roughly halfway through the DMZ. Thirty thousand soldiers could move through it in an hour. Our tour group seemed really excited at the thought of plunging deep underground and exploring what is a strong reminder of the tense relations between North and South. Despite the gloominess of the tunnel, the mood was jovial as bursts of laughter punctuated the exploration every time somebody banged his/her helmet against the tunnel rocks overhead.


Peace Observatory

After having had a close look at the DMZ from the inside, it was time again to take a good look at it from above, so our group made its way to the Peace Observatory. Located in Cheorwon, the Peace Observatory is a state-of-the-art observatory equipped with high definition telescopes and a monorail that leads to the observatory from the parking grounds. Not far from there is Woljeongri Station, the last train station before the North, featuring a bombed out train from the war period.


Headquarters of The Labor Party

The trip ended with a visit to the ancient headquarters of the Labor Party, a building built by the North Koreans before the Korean War at the time Cheorwon was under their control. The building was destroyed during the war but the walls remain, making this shell of a building an impressive sight.
The building has a gloomy presence that betrays its sad history; the place was used to torture and kill Korean patriots, whose bodies were then discarded in the trench at the back of the building. One can only imagine the horrors this building as seen, yet the pain and anguish that sip through every pore of the structure like a bad wound overwhelm. If these walls could talk, they would tell a tale few would want to hear. 

                                                                             Written by Mathieu Deprez 

[Find out more!]

DMZ Tours
Transit Tours at the DMZ
Yeolsoe Observatory



Date 08/04/2008

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