When you go to the DMZ, or the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, do not take any pictures of the soldiers. This I learned right away, as I happened to take a picture out the window of the bus of all of the barbed wire. The soldier immediately insisted that the picture be deleted right away. My companions thought I was going to be detained, but thankfully once the picture was deleted we were allowed to be on our way. That was an exciting way to begin our tour on our day off!
We went to the DMZ Museum, where we learned everything we could about the DMZ. Did you know that there were 765 rounds of talks between 1951 and 1952 before an agreement was signed to create the DMZ? The DMZ is also filled with landmines, so that no one can cross easily. We saw lots of photos of animals that wander between the North and South Korean borders.
After the museum, we went to an observatory where you can see into North Korea. It was surprisingly peaceful, with beautiful views all around. They said that the beach areas are reserved for the military.
There was an art exhibit going on, where you could write your wish on a ribbon and tie it onto the entryway railing. Seeing the ribbons billowing in the wind brought a sense of peace and tranquility to a place that is otherwise full of turmoil and anger.
I think that my favorite stops were next-we went to the beach and to a Buddhist temple. The beach was beautiful, and everyone seemed to have fun playing in the sand and touching the water. The Naksansa temple was at the top of a mountain, and you could see the coast of South Korea for miles and miles. Some of us entered a little tea house, and we learned the culture of having tea. You hold the cup in both hands, smile, and then sip. It was delicious and warmed us all up on this cold, windy day. It was the perfect way to slow down and enjoy the moment that we were all sharing. That is what this experience is about – the moments that we share, whether it be laughter, tears or just a quiet moment and a smile.
By Jana Mangubat, Mass Communications ’19, Posting from the DMZ in South Korea