Last week I started sharing pictures from my time in Korea while visiting my husband. If you missed last weeks post, you can read it HERE. He left for Korea in June, but you can read about him leaving HERE.
Before I left for Korea, we talked about what we wanted to do and see while I was there. Normally I am the planner for trips and family vacations. When we moved from Washington to West Virginia before he left for Korea, I planned an entire cross-country trip. I planned every day down to the smallest detail. I researched had how long the trip would take, tourist attractions along the way, pet friendly hotels, kennels for our dog during extended stays in one area, and the list goes on. However, this trip I didn’t really have a plan. I researched a few places I wanted to visit, but honestly, I didn’t really care what we did as long as we were together.
The only tourist attraction we did plan for was the DMZ. If you like, you can read more about history and importance of the DMZ HERE. In order to take the trip to the DMZ, all tourists must adhere to a strict dress code. I was actually excited about the dress code because, let’s face it, a lot of people just don’t care how they dress, especially in the states. South Koreans dress fairly modest as far as I could tell. However, their definition of modesty is a bit different from ours. For example, you rarely find Korean women who show any of their chest. They are covered up to their necks with their blouses, shirts or coats. However, many wear short skirts or dresses that are mid-thigh length with tights. Although the skirts/dresses are a little too short for my definition of modesty, none of these outfits were immodest. It sounds a little contradictory, but I thought their outfits were modest. Actually, it was quite refreshing! Anyway, because the DMZ receives tourists from many countries, the dress code is put in place to ensure people are not presenting themselves as distractions to the South Korean soldiers guarding the area. Regardless of the country the tourists hail from, they still represent South Korea. The dress code also ensures people are not dressed in an offensive manner to North Korea. You can literally see North Korea when visiting the DMZ. For a brief few seconds, you get the opportunity to step in North Korea while visiting the DMZ. Thankfully no one was dismissed due to dress code infractions on our tour. 🙂
Here we are at the DMZ. The blue buildings behind us are used by the South Korean and North Korean diplomats during peace talks.
This was our MP (Military Police) escort during the DMZ visit. The MP escorts make sure you remain with the group, follow the rules and don’t wander around snapping pictures of everything and anything. Before the tour begins, you have to sign a form that you will obey the rules. If you are caught breaking the rules, they make you sit in the bus under MP supervision. While visiting the DMZ, you are not allowed to point, gesture, make faces, or anything similar toward the North Korean soldiers patrolling their side. These things are considered offensive and the South Koreans want the DMZ to remain as peaceful as possible. Someone in our group did point, but it was immediately handled by the South Korean soldiers and our MP escort. Thinking back on it, he did get scolded pretty bad. Also, children under the age of 10 are not allowed on the tour.
Here are a couple of South Korean soldiers. All South Korean soldiers are referred to as ROK (Republic of Korea) and the military branch (i.e. ROK Army; ROK Navy; etc.). In order to be on the border patrol in this area you must be a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. Since we participated in Tae Kwon Do when we were in Washington and hope to get back into it again, this was really interesting to us! These guys are pretty tough and do not put up with foolishness!
Directly behind the blue JSA (Joint Security Area) buildings is NORTH Korea. If you are able to zoom in, you can see a North Korean soldier patrolling the concrete building pictured. They are always watching and always patrolling. You do NOT want to cross that line! The US military call the North Korean soldier “Bob.” Bob would often hide behind the pillar, but would show himself and stare at us with binoculars.
This is a selfie of us inside the JSA peace talk building. One half of the building is South Korea and the other is in North Korea.
Another South Korean border patrol MP. There were rules even on how close we can stand to him. They were very clear what would happen if you did not listen!
I am officially in North Korea in this picture. Again, another South Korea border patrol Soldier. Notice I am still following the rules about how close to stand to him! lol
This is a table that is inside the JSA building. If you look at the microphones they go right down the middle. The upper half pictured is South Korea and the lower half is North Korea.
A North Korean guard tower. Kinda creepy thinking that they were watching us, right?
This is the Memorial for the Ax Murder incident that occurred in 1976. It is also referred to as the Panmunjom Incident. Camp Bonifas, the northern most US military camp in South Korea, is named after Captain Arthur Bonifas who lost his life at this horrific incident. 🙁
This is the “Bridge of No Return.” At the end of the Korean War, POWs from each side were taken to this bridge and were given a choice as to which side they wanted to remain. Once that decision was made, they could not change their minds. Once they crossed from one side to the other they could not return–hence the name “Bridge of No Return.” The stone pillars seen in the picture were emplaced shortly after the Axe Murder Incident.
These pictures were taken at the Dora Observatory. This was a pretty neat place to see! Here, I am pictured with a ROK DMZ Border Patrol truck.
We are not really sure what this says but HEY it was in Hangul (Korean language)! lol
I just thought all the rocks were neat with the trees. I never down a good photo op….lol!
Another selfie special! We didn’t have Bookworm, our normal photographer with us! lol
Taken at the Dorason Station in Paju City. That sign reads correct. There is a train that connects South and North Korea and still active. It is the South Korean government’s hopes that the train will eventually connect South Korea with Europe, believe it or not.
Another at the Station. Hubby took this! LOL
We also visited the 3rd Tunnel. Out of everything we had seen on our DMZ trip, this area was probably the most sobering. At least four tunnels have been found that were dug by North Korea to attack South Korea. There could be more tunnels, but no more have been found.
The tour was really amazing! I am so glad that I got to go and someday I would like to revisit and take my boys. There is a lot about the tour that we did not get pictures of because of photography restrictions in many areas. We did soak it all in though. If you ever get the chance to visit South Korea (especially if you’re a military wife), I encourage you to GO! If your spouse is currently stationed or working there as a contractor, take advantage and travel! I have said many times that being a military wife is an honor. I have been blessed to live this life and I am truly thankful for the USO for providing this tour MUCH cheaper for military families!
I hope you all are enjoying South Korea through my eyes! 🙂 Next week I will share some more and another outfit!
So what did I wear to the DMZ?
Well it was VERY cold! If I had it to do over, I would have worn something warmer than what I did. When we left Seoul though I was comfortable. As we got further north….brrr!
Headband: Lilla Rose
Sweater: Old Navy for $5!
Black Undershirt: www.halftee.com
Skirt: Dress Barn on clearance
Tights: I WISH I had worn fleece! They were just cheap tights I got a few years ago.
Shoes: Macy’s on sale.
Jacket: This was just a velour jacket I had thrown in and not very warm! I cannot remember what brand this is. Hubby got it for me about 3 years ago.