In honor of my cabin fever and summer-lust I have been looking over photos from adventures in Korea that I had during the warmer months and here is one that I wanted to share.
Even in South Korea the DMZ is made into a cute and adorable place.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I went to the DMZ so I went with an open mind and heart. Our guide for the day was extremely well informed and I was not let down by the experience.
What struck me the most was the hope and preparation for unification between the North and the South. The Freedom Building at the JSA (Joint Security Area), which was built to host reunification meetings between families split between North and South, was so big and so empty. At the time that the group I was with went through the building, we were the only people in the entire place and the desolateness of it was heart-wrenching. You could only hear the sound of footsteps echoing through the enormous building where families were meant to be hugging and smiling. Another place that the emptiness really struck me was Dorasan Station, the very last station in South Korea before the DMZ. The station is empty and stands waiting for passengers from the North that never come. The only people who visit are tourists like myself.
The next most striking thing to me was the stand-off between the South and North Korean Army. It was heavy and intense with plenty of looks to kill.
Here is the conference room that is shared by both North and South Korea for negotiations and meetings. The room is equally controlled by each country's soldiers and R.O.K. Army guards were in place to make sure that no one in our group got the defect fever. (At least that is what our guide told us ;))
The experience was educational and made the reason for leaving home for 2 years more tangible. I mean, I knew why we were here and had spoken to many Korean friends and acquaintances about it. Many of my favorite Ajusshis and Adjumas have shared stories with me about the war and divide that have left me tearful with a heavy heart. Living in such a bustling and vibrant city as Seoul it is very easy to forget about what happened and turn a blind-eye to the suffering. Going to the DMZ was worthwhile, I am glad to have done it, and I am eager to take friends so that they too can understand and really see a different side of South Korea.
If you ever have the chance visit the DMZ remember to go with an open heart.