May 10: Traveling North

On Friday we traveled to the DMZ, or the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The DMZ is a very important part of Korean culture and society, as it is the border between North and South Korea. We arrived at Dorasan Station and were able to see the train stop that leads to the capital of North Korea. Inside the station, there were a lot of images of the relations between the leaders of North and South Korea meeting together at the JSA of the DMZ, JSA stands for Joint Security Area. The JSA is the part of the DMZ where the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, and leader Kim Jong-Un met together in the past year. Although the JSA was closed today, I had a good experience visiting the DMZ and walking through its museum. I was able to learn about all of the attacks planned and executed against South Korea, most notably the many tunnels built to Seoul in order to attack the city. There are four that were discovered, but the South Korean government believes that there are many more. We were able to go inside one of the tunnels and see North Korea from a distance; inside, it is required to wear a hard hat because the tunnel is very low and it is easy to hit your head. I am glad I was wearing one because my ability to perceive how low I must crouch to make through as a relatively tall person was not perfect. It was a 450m uphill hike after we made it down to the bottom of the tunnel. Afterwards, we were able to do some more exploring in the Imjingak area where there was good street vendors, an expensive Popeyes, and a heart-wrenching exhibit about separated families due to the war between North Korea and South Korea.

Next, we rode to the Gangnam area in Seoul and went a cruise down the Han River. It was very scenic, as we were able to get a good view of the city and enjoy the sunshine. Some of the students bought food to feed the seagulls flying above the Han River. As someone who is not a fan of seagulls, I did not participate in that aspect of our ride. Overall, it was a long and refreshing day.

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