Last Saturday, I finally made my way to the DMZ. The DMZ, for those who aren’t “in the know”, is the 4 km wide and 248km long border separating South Korea from North Korea.
The DMZ, besides being all that separates two warring nations from mutual annihilation (well, that and all the weapons) is a pretty big tourist attraction; according to our guide, around 600 visitors go to the DMZ every day to witness the last active relic of the Cold War.
From what I’ve heard, the most interesting part of the tourable DMZ near Seoul is Panmunjeom(there are a few tours places available), the village located exactly on the border of both countries. I booked my seat on this tour using Grace Travel. I just sent them an email then a lady called me asking for my passport information. Once that was sent to her, I had my seat reserved. For 78 000won, I got a bus from the Lotte Hotel in Seoul (probably the swankiest hotel I’ve ever been in) to the DMZ and back, a buffet style lunch and a guided tour around the area. While it was interesting to see the DMZ and catch a glimpse of the North’s soldiers and their much touted Propaganda Village (home of the world’s highest flag pole!), I’m not sure if I can wholeheartedly recommend it. If you live in Seoul, it’s probably one of those things you should do because you’re there, but if you’re visiting Korea for a week, the DMZ takes up too much time for what it delivers. Since the area is a military zone, photos are regulated and the tour doesn’t offer much free exploration (the area is heavily mined). We were given rules to follow, which makes sense, and waivers to sign. For me, the tour lasted from 11am to 6pm.
Bottom line, if you’ve got a spare Saturday and 80 000won burning a hole in your pocket, check it out to say you were there, but if you’ve in Korea, for a short time and you’ve got a lot on your to-see list, don’t feel bad if you miss it.