Once Upon A Time in Panmunjom

imageI found an unique and tremendous experience in this place. Try this one, guys.

Hey guys, how’s your travelling? Which place did you visit last holiday? Nowadays, we are used to ask and answer those kind of question. Some budget airways and hostel help so many people to travel around the world.

Traveling is not about showing your social status anymore or completing your photo album, finally it has more meaning for people who do it. Some people who wants to find good fashion may go to Singapore, Sydney, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Dubai or Milan. While you may find a lot of beautiful beaches in Thailand, Indonesia and Maldives to do some water sport. Then you may go to Tibet to find a peaceful place for your soul. In conclusion, whatever your purpose, you may find it everywhere around the world.

But this place is different. Panmunjom.

Panmunjom, located in Gyeonggi Province, is an abandoned village on the de facto border between North and South Korea, where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that paused the Korean War was signed.

In this place, there are Korean Demilitarized Zone or usually called as the DMZ, blue bulding, the Freedom House of South Korean, incursion tunnels, and the home of Joint Security Area. United Nations Command (UNC) has stayed there to protect this place and to anticipate any kind of war between North Korean and South Korean.

When I went to this place some years ago, I never thought that this place would give me an extraordinary experience. I came to South Korean and stayed for some days in Seoul, the capital of South Korean, before I visited Panmunjom.

In seoul, I found so many entertainment and joys. This country has developing so well especially in its industry and technology. The city has been also beautiful and awesome at that time.

Then, in the weekend, my friends and I went to Panmunjom. The site of the former village is 53 kilometers north-northwest of Seoul. We had so tight security check by UNC. They asked us to follow the rules well because this was a sensitive place for both countries, it included no blue jeans, just wearing a conservative outfit. In this part, I had felt tense and ironic. The atmosphere was very different compared with Seoul.

This was not a kind of war tour nor fun tour. It’s an unique and tremendous tour because we were truly in the middle of war and having a good and secure tour at once.

imageThe army brought us into a blue building, a place that is usually used to arrange meeting between North and South Korean. Some famous people around the world such as George Bush was here. Around this blue building, they are North and South Korean soldiers were standing opposite each other. We could find a friendly expression on South Korean soldiers’ face, but no expression at all on North Korean soldiers’ face.

Then, we went to the Freedom House of South Korean. There was a very big and wide window facing the North Korean area especially Kim Jong Il’s giant statue. Our guide said that it’s better for us not to make any suspicious gesture like waving or pointing at North Korean’s area. It might cause misunderstanding and a war only in five minutes. We were all frozen suddenly. Later on, there were so many robots amongst us.

We also found different expression as I told you before in Incursion tunnels. They are four tunnels across thr DMZ dug by North Korean. They said that the tunnels were for coal mining, but after South Korean found the tunnels, there were no coal at all inside the tunnels. It is believed that the tunnels were for military invasion. Since that time, both sides has protected together the tunnels.

imageWhen I went inside the tunnels, it killed me softly. It’s a very steep, long, and narrow tunnels. Though South Korean has maintained the tunnels well for the tourists, it’s still like a hell. I can’t imagine if I’m the soldier who has to pass the tunnel in a war condition. Olala.

At the end of the tunnel, there were two soldiers in different uniform, standing facing each other with different expression as I told you before. Suddenly, I felt again the ironic taste of this tour. The soldiers were ready to die for their own country, and here we were in the middle of the tour.

The UNC also took us to a dirt road near the borderline between North and South Korean. They told us that there were some bloody incident happened in this road. It was usually North Korean’s citizen who wanted to go across the South Korean just for having a reunion with their family who lived at South Korean. Then, our guide added that Han river has became a sentimental thing for all the citizen from both countries because they believed that their tears, bloods, and longing flowing in the river well.

In the end of the tour, our guide brought us to a merchandise store. It made me realized again that I’m in the middle of fun tour, not a war tour, isn’t it?

I love my experience in Panmunjom. It’s a truly roller coaster. I recommend you to ride it, guys. In the other hand, I do wish that both countries may find their peace someday.

The end.


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