The DMZ and North Korea
Sometimes people ask me if I think it is dangerous to live in Korea. I always wonder why they ask me this because Korea is a very safe place with very little crime. Sometimes I remember that they ask me this because we live so close to North Korea, and word on the street says it's a little crazy up there. Generally for me though North Korea is just a place on the news that other people worry about (my mother not included).
This weekend Jordan's good friend Jed came to visit us, so we picked him up at the airport and took the opportunity to visit the DMZ. The tour started in the Joint Security Area, an area that has both a North and South presence, where the two sides meet for talks. We were "lucky" enough to see real, live North Koreans on a tour from their side.
Apparently this is a rare occurrence and both sides were busy taking pictures of the other side. The visiting rules are very strict, so we couldn't point, wave or make any gestures to the visitors on the other side. There are very serious South Korean guards standing around you all the time to make sure you behave and to keep the North Koreans from getting you.
After the Joint Security Area, we toured a tunnel dug by the North Koreans to secretly flood Seoul with soldiers. Luckily the tunnel was discovered before this happened. So far they have discovered four tunnels, however they estimate that as many as 17 more exist. In order to cover up their true intentions, the North Koreans painted to tunnel black and claimed they were looking for coal. Any rock sample will tell you though that the rock is solid granite. We got to wear cool hard hats as we walked through the tunnel, but pictures weren't allowed, so you will have to imagine us looking cool.
We ended with a view of Freedom Bridge, which was where prisoners of the Korean war were exchanged when a cease fire was declared. Now it's a place of pilgrimage for South Koreans to leave messages for their families in the North.