My visit to Korea’s DMZ zone

10 Apr

DMZ 1When I worked in South Korea I had a chance to visit the De-Militarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea.  It was eerie, strangely silent, in spite of thousands of troops in or near the area.  The guide cautioned us not to make any sudden movements, especially sudden gestures with our arms or hands.  One sensed hundreds of eyes watching every move. Armed sentries were silhouetted in watch towers.

dmz zone tableThe soldiers were all very young and quite seriously devoted to their tasks. I saw the table where the truce was signed in 1953, ending the Korean conflict. Oddly half of that room is in North Korea and the other half in South Korea.

I try to avoid an “us” and “them” mentality, but from what I learned then and since, the North Korean people are incredibly isolated from information about world culture, completely without the resources that you or I completely take for granted. The control of the media is so absolute that people believe what they are told about anything outside their country. Poverty is rampant. I was told that South Korea became discouraged about donating food to the north as most of it went to the political and military.

There was a souvenir shop at the DMZ zone. I looked at everything but didn’t buy anything.


Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


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6 responses to “My visit to Korea’s DMZ zone

  1. Alice Toohey

    April 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Thanks, Ellen. It’s interesting to hear your pespective on the dividing line.

  2. Ellen Bowers

    April 11, 2013 at 6:37 am

    It was spooky but informative–made me appreciative for mostly peaceful conditions in the U.S.

  3. Nancy

    April 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Hmm I remember visiting s. Korea about ten years ago. Kind of dirty in places but some lovely people and art nooks to see and stroll along streets. Didn’t go to DMZ. . Thanks Ellen for your experiences:)

    • Ellen Bowers

      April 12, 2013 at 1:34 am

      Yes, the people are lovely, once you get beyond that initial reserve. There were SO MANY dinner and trip invitations that I had to sometimes say no. I had wonderful co-workers and learned so much.

  4. mary frances

    April 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    wow … makes me want to travel more. i also ordered lots of political documentaries from netflix.

  5. Ellen Bowers

    April 20, 2013 at 4:49 am

    For me there’s nothing like the mind-expanding effect of travel.


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