For our trip to the Korean DMZ we chose the DMZ/JSA and third tunnel tour with Koridoor tours, who are run by the USO. That’s USO as in the people who organise live entertainment and other social events for US troops and their families overseas. And also DMZ tours. Kind of weird. Sadly, Bob Hope didn’t make an appearance on our tour.
The waiting room at the US base in Seoul where we met up at the start of the tour was a little slice of America though. Continue reading “Which DMZ tour?”
On our day out to the Korean DMZ we made the biggest mistake of our trip. Worse than missing out on playing dress up at the Gangnam Tourist Information Centre. Worse than eating whatever it was that made me sick enough to pass out on a Chinese night train. Worse than losing six days of our Russian Visa. Worse than accidentally ordering duck foetus in Vietnam. Worse than cycling 20 kilometres into the Cambodian jungle in the dark, with no water, and finding the only river was too salty to drink.
Maybe not that last one.
The Korean DMZ is a two mile wide buffer between the two Koreas. A heavily mined strip of land 35 miles north of Seoul, in reality the demilitarised zone is one of the most heavily militarised places in the world. The perfect spot for a day trip then. Continue reading “DMZ: Korea meets Korea”
North Korea has long had a guilty allure for me — it brings up some squirming contradictions. So intriguing: the ultimate foreign land, full of strangeness. We’re all fascinated by it. But then horrified: the famine, the camps, the death.
Under the rule of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea remains among the world’s most repressive countries. All basic freedoms have been severely restricted under the Kim family’s political dynasty. A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that abuses in North Korea were without parallel in the contemporary world. They include extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence. North Korea operates secretive prison camps where perceived opponents of the government are sent to face torture and abuse, starvation rations, and forced labor. Fear of collective punishment is used to silence dissent. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom.
Human Rights Watch
Often the global coverage of North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as it’s more properly known, tends almost towards humour. Oh look at those funny North Koreans, what will they get up to next? You could argue laughter is a weapon, and both factual coverage and fictional portrayals of the Kims have certainly made them look pretty silly. Continue reading “Should I visit North Korea?”