The Adventures of an American Girl in the South...South Korea! I've got Seoul...

August 10, 2015  •  1 Comment

Busan-as far south as you get. Seoul - as far north as you get, without getting arrested!  I decided to go full circle, and visit not only Seoul, but the DMZ-JSA site while I was there. My father fought in the Korean war, so this was important to me. By the way, an interesting side note...the Korean people refer to the war as the 625 war, not the Korean war. The north invaded on June 25th, 1950, and came to an "agreement" to cease fighting on July 27, 1953. This war is not officially over...

If you ever have the opportunity to visit Seoul, I highly recommend an all day tour of the DMZ area, which also includes the 3rd Tunnel.  The North Koreans built 21 tunnels between north and south in order to invade South Korea.  To this day, only 4 tunnels have been uncovered; there are 17 tunnels still unaccounted for.  The 3rd tunnel is very deep, wide enough only for single file coming and going, and quite low.  Most of the time you have to bend.  When you get to the border, trust me, you can't walk into North Korea by mistake.  You can, however, from a small opening in the wall, see the North Korean side...To this day, there is still coal on the walls and ceiling of the tunnel, as originally planned by the North Koreans.  They deliberately made it look and feel like a coal mine in the event they were caught red handed.  If so, the plan was to say they were digging for coal mines, and look! here's coal!  I'm guessing they hoped the South Korean Army would buy that... 

Standing at the DMZ on the South Korean side, looking directly at the North Korean soldiers in front of you at a distance of, let's say, right across the street - was quite an experience.  The South Korean and North Korean soldiers face each other, weapons fully loaded, all day and all night.  We were told not to make any direct eye contact, hand gestures, facial expressions, or anything else towards the North Korean soldiers.  You don't want to give them a reason to shoot.  Try to run across the line to the North Korean side, and you have guaranteed an arrest, if you live past the shooting.  They aren't kidding. A very brief, limited photo-op here, and then you move on to the Armistice Room, where the U.N. treaty was signed. You can take a few pictures, but none facing north...Move on to the Unification Bridge and the Bridge of no Return, where you were given a choice of which side you'd like to go to.  Unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, once you crossed it, there was no going back...These are just a few of the places we experienced on this tour, along with our Korean tour guide, and American Army soldier guide.  It was quite an experience, to say the least... 

Seoul, the city, is absolutely mind blowing.  Extremely modern buildings and original temples share real estate...Restaurants, pubs and nightclubs stacked in the neighborhood of Itaewon, a party town that makes New York look like Mayberry...The clubs go until 5am...Unfortunately for me, my room was on that side of the street.  I got 2.5 hours sleep on Friday, and even with a room change, got the same amount of sleep on Saturday!  The party doesn't end at 5...the clubs close, but everyone pours out onto the street and keeps the party going.  When I was 20, this would have been fun.  Let's just say that at "no longer 20 by a long shot," not so much fun! 

Seoul is a melting pot of every race, creed and color, with restaurants to match. I stopped and asked people on the street where they were from and what brought them there.  I had some interesting conversations.  Yep, conversations, because practically everyone there spoke English!  I was soooo happy!

Anyway, back to Busan 4 days, 2 amazing guided tours, 6 new friends and one visit to the Korean War Museum later.  Take the Korail fast train there and back in under 3 hours.  Book a first class ticket for about $25.00 more and go in style.  Nice wide seats, a reading library at your disposal, bathrooms, and cart service coming through every 15 minutes.  Best  part - no cellphones allowed.  You have to step outside of the car if you want to talk...yes! 

Back in Busan, back to my translation app, but happy to be here.  Even happier that I made the Seoul trip.  A few more days, and I head home to the states.  I'll have many stories to tell, pictures to edit, and website galleries to build.  For now, two more days of shooting, including an afternoon at one of the most famous temples on the ocean later today.  You know you're gonna hear about it!  

That's all for now...if you're exhausted from all this reading, imagine how my fingers feel from all this typing!!!

Big smiles to you...

Donna.

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

Jasemin Sibo(non-registered)
Hi! Seoul misses u! Waiting for our wacky photos together :D
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