Yesterday we made the 90 minute drive from Seoul to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). It is a powerful reminder of the history of war and struggle in this country.
At the DMZ, we took a shuttle bus from the main pavilion to the tunnels. Before we could enter the tunnel entrance area, a Korean solider boarded our bus and inspected each persons passport.
We crossed through a military checkpoint and then got off the bus. The tunnels were built by the North Korean Army and discovered by South Korea in the 1970s. So far three tunnels have been discovered. We explored a portion of one of them known as the Third Infiltration tunnel. South Korea believes up to 7 additional tunnels exist somewhere.
I shared a photo of the tunnel on Twitter yesterday. It was unreal.
After leaving the tunnels we got back on the DMZ shuttle bus and spent some time at an observation tower. There is barbed wire fence along the border and military personal everywhere. At that point the DMZ buffer zone is approx 4km. You could easily see North Korea with your naked eye. I picked up cheap binoculars earlier and the North Korean building and city felt as if you could just touch it. The North Korean mountains were beautiful but bare. We were told it’s because they don’t have money to plant trees.
The entire DMZ area communicates a desire of unification. It feels deeply heartfelt and yet when we asked various people here we heard mixed feedback about unification. You can feel the emotions and tragedy of war everywhere.
Going there with my Mom was particularly powerful. My mom’s family escaped North Korea when she was just a few years old. They settled in South Korea and started life all all over again.
We spent the afternoon relaxing back in Seoul. The kids and grandparents needed time to relax so Lauren and I explored the nearby neighborhood. We grabbed some interesting snacks from various street vendors and took in the sights and sounds of the city.
I also bought some crazy sunglasses to fit in with Korean youth scene :)
For dinner we went to visit my Aunt who still live in Seoul. There were about 20 Korean family members at the dinner party. The food was incredible and my dad tried his first kimchi and claims he liked it. At one point I noticed my kids dancing with my cousins young children (who don’t speak English). Amazing how that happens.
As the evening grew late, they gave us a ride back to our hotel in two cars. Apparently Lauren’s mom and my Korean Uncle sang “Amazing Grace” on the drive in their car. I wish I had heard it. I am sure it was a beautiful thing to experience.
(Please excuse any typos or lack of links. I am writing this post on my phone)