"Not really North Korea..." North Korea by Ewingjr98

North Korea Travel Guide: 700 reviews and 2,384 photos

OK, I was in North Korea, but not really... While in Seoul, I made the ever-popular trip to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the communist north from the free south. After arriving at US Army's camp Bonifas (named for an American soldier killed by the North Koreans during the infamous "Axe Murder Incident"), we received a briefing on the dos and don'ts at the DMZ. Do act appropriately so as not to give propaganda to the North. Don't cross the border!

I returned to the DMZ in 2013, but not much had changed. Tourists still visit in droves, the North Korean soldiers still watch the tourists through binoculars, and animals (especially pheasants) retain unmolested control of the DMZ.

Then you take a bus to the DMZ town of Panmunjom located in the Joint Security Area. The center point of the DMZ are the baby-blue (UN blue?) buildings that straddle the border between the two countries. All visitors are allowed to enter the center building where peace talks are held. But be wary of the burly South Korean soldiers standing in Tae Kwon Do stances with sunglasses -- they guard the door leading to North Korea. They serve a dual purpose -- to protect visitors from the North Koreans, but also to prevent people from entering the North. While in this building, you may step across the line into the North...but only for a few minutes until your tour continues.

When you move on, you will also see the "Bridge of no Return" where POWs were exchanged after the war -- upon agreeing they would never return; and you will see the site of the Axe Murder Incident. At this spot in 1976, a US Army Captain was killed, and 8 other UN soldiers were wounded while trying to "prune" a tree to improve visibility between checkpoints.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:North Korea is a good place to lose weight, easy to choose something on TV
  • Cons:No food, only one TV channel, daily beatings
  • In a nutshell:This place sucks!
  • Last visit to North Korea: Feb 2003
  • Intro Updated May 16, 2013
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Comments (2)

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Good that you went to the DMZ while it was still open to visitors. I understand it is now off limits again. (When I see the letters ‘DMZ’ I immediately think of the one in Vietnam, which I toured in 1995.)

  • Ekahau's Profile Photo
    Apr 20, 2007 at 4:42 AM

    I would love to visit North Korea

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