Just roughly hour ride by train up north of Seoul you can see DMZ line and a side of North Korea. It’s a must have experience and see North Korea up close. Before I went to do the tour, I researched what was the cheapest way to do this without paying costly tour. Also as of this moment, many sites and tours were closed due to COVID – especially the JSA tour where you can step in North Korea side of line. Regardless, I went ahead without buying an tour packages online and did the security tour that’s of Imjingak in Paju. From Seoul Station, you can take the Munsan St and transfer to the train that will take you to thee last stretch of South Korea to Imjingak. The last station is actually Dorasan St but that’s past the security checkpoint and currently closed due to COVID. However, when it’s open, you should be able to take the DMZ train directly there after buying the ticket from Seoul Station and do this security tour in completion.
After I arriving to Imjingak, you can see free DMZ museum (National Memorial Hall) on your left. Very informative but it’s mostly in Korean and you can pick up pamphlet in English to self-guide yourself. Interestingly, outside there’s small amusement park and it seems to be mostly closed with few rides open. After quickly going through this, I went to the center to buy the Dorasan Security Tour that will take you past the checkpoint by the bus. You need to give passport or resident card to them by the way. For the Tunnel, you are given two options, by walking or monorail. I chose the walking. The 3rd Infiltration tunnel is 1,635 meters long and is one of the four tunnels you can see.
I had an hour to kill before our bus departures. No better way to spend an hour here than going to café. This town is very quiet and chill. Many Americans here as well – I’m assuming they’re either militants or tourists. Even some of the restaurant have very American food (burgers, fries, etc.).
After spending an hour, I take the bus to get past the checkpoint. At the checkpoint, soldier checks out your passport or resident card and cross checks with the list. I’m excited and our first destination is the tunnel. We must put all our phone and cameras away in locker before we head down. No pictures unfortunately. This tunnel is very deep to my surprise and chilly. I heard it’s 11C degree at all times here. After I reached the bottom, you have to crawl in. It wasn’t easy to keep my back down. I saw couple of people keep hitting their head and that looked painful. Ouch! But we are given helmet to protect our heads so keep your heads down. The end of tunnel is closed off with wires, so you turn back and now it’s time to climb back up the deep tunnel. I absolutely enjoyed the tunnel and now we head to our next destination (Dora Observatory).
From here, you can see the views of the city of Gaeseong in North Korea, and the Statue of Kim Il-sung in North Korea. Gaesong from what I know is the next stop from Dorasan Station if North and South Korea reunite. The railroad, roads and bridges are already in place and ready to go. It’s as if any day they become one, they will be able to go in-between cities the same day. Before you head, the bus stops for rest break by a grocery market for 15 minutes that has produces grown locally in the DMZ zone so be sure to check out.
This concludes my trip to DMZ. I have to say it must have experience. It’s very peaceful and quiet up here. They are no tensions here like you see in the media at all. We saw many elementary-middle school aged kids group taking the tour up here with their teachers. And the during my tunnel experience these kids didn’t have to crawl at all so it was quite amusing to see that. All in all, I enjoyed it and how felt close they are and prepared to unite at any time yet so far from being reunited for political reasons.