Korea, Day 13

Lookout tower at DMZ

Many (locals and colleagues) wondered why we wanted to take a DMZ tour. I understand their various reasons but, I am very happy that we did take the time to see it. It’s humbling. It’s a stark reminder that this country is still at war. It’s a reminder of how much this country has been through, and it puts into perspective how resilient the Koreans are in building the economy to what it is today.

For all that the DMZ is, it’s actually quite impressive that it has become a nature preserve. It’s also interesting to look out at the border and see where the treeline ends, being that the North Koreans have cut all of their trees in order to better see potential defectors. Their mountains are also void of trees as they use the wood for fuel (heat) because they cannot afford to import other fuels.

I hate that so many locations, along the DMZ, banned photography as there was so much that I wanted to photograph. 

Also interesting were the attempted tunnels dug by North Korea (four tunnels found, 25 suspected) with the intention of attacking Seoul. We walked 350m down to the third tunnel, then walked to the first barricade within the tunnel) which brought us as close to the border as possible. Again, humbling. 
The bus tour took us to a few different locations along the DMZ, including Freedom Bridge, the third tunnel,  observation area, the northernmost train station in South Korea, and then back to Insadong, Seoul for lunch and shopping. 
We then parted ways with Reuben, our fearless leader, who travels back to Washington DC tomorrow. He is the one who invited us all to Korea as part of his GMS Committee, and every single one of us is extremely grateful for these opportunities. 
I called it an early evening once we returned to the hotel. I’m not only very tired but I had a lot of work to catch up on. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been gone a long time until someone from home (work, friends, family, etc) emails me for something. 
I am in love with this city. While it doesn’t feel like home, I can see myself living here and being happy. There is so much more to do and explore; this is a city that I want to come back to as much as I can. 

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