Monday, April 18, 2011

Our USO DMZ Tour

Yes, we took photos on the tour, but hadn't uploaded them yet, as noted in our earlier post.

We arrive at the entry gates after an hour's drive from Seoul. We're told not to take any photos from here on until given permission.

First, the U.S. MPs conducting our tour of the DMZ provide an orientation in the auditorium in Camp Bonifas, the facility named after an American soldier killed by the North Koreans in an "incident" over the cutting of a tree. We also are required to sign a release advising us that, if anything happens to us on the tour, it's our responsibility.

Before we know it, we're on and off the army's bus and standing in the meeting room that straddles the border between the two Koreas, watched over by two ROK soliders standing at the ready. The photo below is taken from the North Korean side of the table.

Outside, at least one and sometimes two of the ROK soldiers stand half-concealed by the building, allowing them to signal if they see anything amiss on the North Korean side.

Outside again, we peer across at a North Korean soldier, who is also peering at us, at times using binoculars.

It's breathtaking to stand in the actual main meeting room where so many tense discussions have been held, to literally stand in North Korean territory, to watch a North Korean soldier watching us, and to do all this under the watchful eye of our US escorts and the ROK soldiers.

But now it's back on the bus. There's a lot more to see, and a lot more photos to be shared when time permits.

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