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The DMZ : Korea

by on October 8, 2011

On Friday Oct 7, 2011 I visited the DMZ with Prof. Jian Cao from Northwestern University.

At the end of the Second World War, Korea (a Japanese colony at that time) was split into a Communist North and a pro-Western South.Technically, the two Koreas are still at war because the conflict ended in a truce without a peace treaty. A demilitarised zone (known as the DMZ) has separated the North and South ever since the war. The DMZ is a ‘no-mans’ area of pristine land, 4km (2.5 miles) wide and 243km (151 mile) long strewn with mines and guarded by nearly two million troops on both sides and it is only a 60 miles drive from Seoul. The United States has 37,000 troops stationed in South Korea.

Here are some pictures from the trip. First try to interpret the stamps on my hand. Hint: it has something to do with a train ride between two capital cities.

Going from Pyongyang to Seoul.

This hulking, rusted locomotive rode the Kyongui line in 1950 and hauled rail cars from Seoul to Sinuiju, not far from what was the Korea-China border at that time. On June 25, 1950, the locomotive became the unofficial property of North Korea when an estimated 135,000 troops swarmed south, starting the Korean War. Its resting place today is on tracks inside the demilitarized zone, where it has stood for almost 60 years.This is in Imjingak (on the Imjin River), a tourist park only about a mile from the restricted access Tong-il “Unification” Bridge, which leads to Camp Bonifas and the United Nations Joint Security Agency. Bonifas was a US soldier and the camp name is dedicated to him. He died in the “Axe Murder Incident” on Aug. 18, 1976, during which the attempted trimming of a tree in the security area prompted a group of North Korean soldiers to attack, killing U.S. Army Capt. Arthur Bonifas and 1st Lt. Mark Barrett, and injuring nine U.S. and South Korean soldiers.

Jian Cao and rusted train in the DMZ.

This little park is very well designed. There is some sad classical music playing in the background that gives the place an ominous feel. Here are some other shot from the train itself and the scenery around it.

DMZ sad place.

The train that was left behind to rust.

In 2007, two trains crossed into the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone for the first rail journey through the border dividing the two Koreas in more than half a century, the latest symbol of historic reconciliation between the longtime foes. The tests included two five-car trains with 150 people aboard — one departing from the North and the other from the South. On the western side of the border, 17 miles of track have been laid between the South’s Munsan and Kaesong in the North. The new eastern line links North Korea’s Diamond Mountain with Jejin in the South across 16 miles of track. When both the US and South Korea got some warmonger types back in office the effort was shelved. For a picture of the bridge see the figure below (the white one on the left).

Bridges old and new between South and North Korea.

Here is a place of real hope: the northernmost train station in South Korea: Dorasan, the station was opened on April 11, 2002 after the joint North Korea-South Korea Declaration on June 15, 2000. When / if  the two Koreas become unified, the train tracks may become connected to the Trans-Siberian Railway or the Trans-Chinese railway. The station is of course all empty today except for some soldiers and a lot of tourists. This is where I had the stamps on my hand.

A sign of hope. Inside Dorosan station.

On to the North, soon enough this will be possible.

It is expected that one day Dorasan station will be in charge of services for customs and clearance of men and goods and a hub of trade among Korea, China, and Russia when the railroad of the Gyeongui line is connected. Therefore, this is a historic spot where is a symbol of division and a gateway of exchanges between the south and north at the same time. Unfortunately US president Bush visited here on 20 Feb. 2002.

Genius fron Yale University.

After Jian took a picture of me with two South-Korean soldiers we went on to visit the Third Tunnel. No pictures are allowed inside that tunnel.

Can I join you guys?

The third tunnel was discovered on October 17, 1978. Unlike the previous two, this third tunnel was discovered following a tip from a North Korean defector. It is is about 1,600 m (1,700 yd) long and 350 m (1,150 ft) below ground. Foreign visitors touring the South Korean DMZ can visit this tunnel using a sloped access shaft. The wily Northerners painted the walls of the tunnel black so it appeared to be a disused coal mine. The fact that the paint comes off easily and that no coal has ever been found in this area didn’t exactly support the Northern side of the story.

For Warmongers here is a monument with stones from 86 battlefield from around the world. Instead of having the less fortunate in your respective countries fight it out for the profit of a small elite come here and throw these rocks at each other. We do not need you.

Netanyahu (Bibi!?) please throw these rocks at Ahmadinejad. Thanks.

In the mean time lets heal this planet, help push please.

Push it together for peace.

From → MY BLOG

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