Visiting The Korean Border Part Two: Infiltration Tunnels and Observatories

My visit to the Korean border was an eventful and informative day. As the trip covered so much, I have had to split the account into two separate posts. Part one followed my journey to the JSA, the tense section of the border where North and South Korean military forces stand facing each other in an eerie silence, and this post follows a trek down the North Korean infiltration tunnels, and a visit to more of the attractions located along the border.

Dorasan Rail Station

Visiting the DMZ

Visiting the DMZ

Dorasan station highlights another failed attempt by South Korea to reach out and reconnect with the North. The station was built, and tracks laid down in an attempt to reunify and indeed, for a short while, freight trains traveled from South Korea to the joint venture that was Kaesong Industrial Region in the North. However, these routes were severed by North Korea following a fall out over their nuclear research, and now the station is mostly abandoned, accommodating just a few trains that arrive each day from Seoul carrying tourists.

Outside of the station, a marble wall displaying the names of all the South Korean companies and individuals who contributed to the building of Dorasan spans the circumference of the station.

Mount Dora Observatory

Visiting the DMZ

After a short uphill drive from Dorasan station, we find ourselves at the top of Mount Dora, and its observatory. A wholly surreal experience.  As we step out of the car and our shoes crunch the gravel below, we are met with rows and rows of binoculars manned by inquisitive South Koreans peering at their neighbors in the North.
Upbeat K-Pop tunes are blasted out of numerous tannoys from South Korea and the music is so loud that the observatory tremors at the bass.
It’s difficult to capture the clarity of the view by photograph, but through the binoculars, you were provided with an insanely clear glance into North Korea.

To the right, you can look into NK’s “peace village” which looks like a really beautiful, brightly colored village, but it’s actually fake and uninhabited, designed to lure South Korean defectors across the border. Immediately ahead is Kaesong city.

The Third Infiltration Tunnel

Visiting the DMZ

The third infiltration tunnel was the third of four tunnels discovered by South Korea in the seventies and eighties that were created by the North for a surprise attack on Seoul.
Through this tunnel, 30,000 armed North Korean soldiers would have been able to reach Seoul in just one hour.
The tunnels were discovered thanks to a North Korean defector who was a Civil Engineer for the project and pointed out their location, however the North are still denying any part in the tunnels creation, claiming that they have no idea where they came from. When the tunnels were found, coal had been smeared on the walls and scattered around in a weak attempt to disguise the tunnels as disused coal mines.

Unfortuntely, we couldn’t take our cameras into the infiltration tunnel and had to both leave everything in a locker, and go through body scanners before entering the tunnel.
The tunnel is perhaps not for the claustrophobic as we had to crouch most of the way. A thin wooden board with window holes in it marked the furthest point that we could go. Glimmering sunlight from North Korea at the other side indicated that it was time to turn back….

Are you interested in Visiting the Korean border? Have you been? Leave a comment below!

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