The History of Korea has fascinated me for a long time, especially what happens in North Korea. A few years ago I read an article about a women, who fled from North Korea and wrote a book about her story. I didn't just read her book, but many others about the same topic and I was startled about the situation of the North Korean people.
For me it was absolutely clear that I'd go on a tour to the demilitarized zone. It was the most important point on my bucket list and the event I was really looking forward to do. Actually I am not a great fan of guided tours, but I guess there is no other way to see the DMZ.
The DMZ offers many sights and observation points. Of course it isn't possible to visit all of them during one day.
A highlight of the tour was the third invasion tunnel. Until now four tunnels were discovered by South Korea, but they claim that there might be even more. These tunnels were dug by North Korea to invade the South. As a tourist you can visit the third tunnel and go inside, a chance I didn't want to miss.
Before you'll go into the tunnel there is a movie about the Korean war. For me the movie was absolutely unsuitable, because the overdramatic music and the enthusiasts background voice did not fit the horrible topic.
Our tour guide did warn us about the slope when we went down the tunnel and that we had to wear a helmet. If you have a heart disease or knee problems I would definitely suggest to stay outside. I know Asians are way smaller than Europeans (and with 1,80m I am taller than average anyway), but North Koreans seem to be quite tiny. We crawled through the tunnel and there were just a few chances to stand tall. After I saw the three walls build by South Korea and the red line, which marks the border, I had so much back pain.
After the trip to the invasion tunnel we came to an observation platform. The view doesn't seem that spectacular on first sight, but when you start thinking about paying 40 Euros for a look to a country, that violates human rights, where people are starving and nobody can really feel good, you know how rich you are.
I also asked myself how a reunification would look like. I wasn't born when it happened in Germany, but I guess the problems of this new political situations were solvable. The people of the GDR knew what was going on in Western Germany and to fit into this society wasn't the biggest challenge of most people's lives.
Korea has been separated for a much longer time and the people there live completely separated from the rest of the world. GDR people got 100 "Deutsche Mark" as welcome-money. North Korean defectors come to Hanawon where they are first treated as spies and then learn how to deal with freedom. Using a microwave, writing applications, waste separation and organising finances are attainments they all have to learn.
A totally weird sight for me was the Dorasan Station. This train station was build in 2002, so in case of unification there will be trains driving to the North. Even though the station was build 16 years ago, it looks quite new and even a bit futuristic. This might be, because there are no passengers but just a few tourists coming here. Until now there is no train arriving or departing from here. For now the station looks like a ghost city, but someday it will be the door to world for so many Koreans.