Two Worlds Apart: DMZ South Korea

A statue in DMZ

Korean Demilitarized Zone

One day before the 60th anniversary of truce between North and South Korea ( July 27), I attended the International Students’ Peace Talk, organized by KISSA and GPYC in Paju city. I thought the event would not be interesting but I was wrong.

There were students representing six different countries, Unites States of America, Japan, China, Russia, South Korea and North Korea and they delivered speech on their thoughts about reconciliation between North and South Korea. I was very much excited about the speech of representative, Lee from North Korea. I had never met anyone from North Korea, so I was looking forward to her speech. When other representatives were giving their speech, the audience seemed uninterested.I thought everyone was waiting for Lee and I was right.

After her speech, the audience burst into applause. The speech was very impressive. Korea is the only divided country in the world and while South Koreans are enjoying economic growth and development, North Koreans struggle to maintain basic necessities of life. Everyone argue that North and South Korea should reunite but there are external powers that interfere in the affairs of North and South Korea. South Korean government wants reunification of North and South Korea but the South Koreans do not and it is the opposite case in North Korea.  All these things were mentioned by Lee and the audience appreciated her for being brave to say these things in public.

Military base in DMZ

Military base in DMZ

We went to a traditional Korean restaurant to have lunch after the peace talk but I wanted to go to the DMZ as soon as possible. Finally we went to DMZ.

There were soldiers all around us and we were told to leave our cellphones and cameras and bags behind before entering the 3rd Tunnel. That is the reason I could not get any pictures of the tunnel. The walls of the tunnel are all graphite and water drips from the pores. The tunnel is around 1 km but it is not very high, so I had to walk all the way to the end, bending my back. It was a cool experience because it is cold inside the tunnel. The tunnel was dug by North Korea but was found by the South Korean military during excavation. It was a great experience.

After the tunnel, we went to the observatory to look at the North Korean borders through the terrestrial telescopes. I paid 1000 won (about 1 dollar), hoping to see some North Korean but all I saw,  was beautiful mountains. I was surprised because the mountains were too beautiful. It was an amazing sight to see but we were not allowed to take any pictures.

Barbed wire fence filled with messages.

Barbed wire fence filled with messages.

Lastly we went to attach our message ribbons to the fence. There were already a lot of ribbons on the fence that shows many people wish for the reunification of North and South Korea. I cannot say that North and South Korea should or should not unite because I am a foreigner and I do not and will never have an idea of the pain and suffering that they went through during the wars. All I can do, is hope that  a day will come when everything is alright.

Be Kind to One Another.


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