When visiting South Korea, one of the top destinations to travel to is the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). It is the border between South Korea and North Korea. It is a 4-kilometer stretch of land that runs across the border. South Korea owns the 2 kilometers to the South, and North Korea owns the 2 kilometers to the North. Traveling to the DMZ is not something you can do on your own. You must book your trip with a tour company in Korea. There are many DMZ tour packages available online to choose from. Traveling from Seoul will take 2 hours by car or bus to the DMZ. Avoid going to the DMZ on a Saturday or a Tuesday, as these are the two busiest tourist days at the DMZ. Also, remember, TAKE YOUR PASSPORT!
Why Visit the DMZ when visiting South Korea?
When visiting South Korea, there are many incredible tourist destinations. From bustling cities like Seoul to stunning natural landscapes such as the beaches of Jeju Island, there is something for everyone. However, if you want a truly unique experience, visit the DMZ.
The DMZ is a heavily fortified border that separates North and South Korea and is one of the most guarded borders in the world. However, despite its tense history, it has become a place of sustainable peace. Visitors are safe if they follow the strict regulations the United Nations imposes and take caution. Visitors can take an official DMZ tour led by licensed guides that offer half-day and full-day options, showcasing significant sites such as Imjingak Park, Freedom Bridge, Third Infiltration Tunnel, DMZ Theater, Exhibition Hall, and Dora Observatory
At the DMZ, you will see firsthand how the tumultuous history of Korea has shaped and impacted this region. You can tour historic military fortifications, learn about the tense relations between North and South Korea, and even view North Korean villages hidden just beyond the border. Moreover, the DMZ offers numerous outdoor activities such as hiking trails, camping areas, and scenic lookout points that let you fully appreciate the natural beauty of this part of South Korea.
So whether you are a history buff or want to experience something extraordinary on your trip to Korea, be sure to add a visit to the DMZ to your itinerary. It will be an unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss! Below are some things you will see when going to the DMZ.
Joint Security Area (JSA)
You will arrive at the Joint Security Area (JSA) when you start your tour. The JSA is a neutral meeting place inside the DMZ. All communication between North Korea and South Korea takes place at JSA. It is sometimes called the “Truce Village” and is the only portion of the DMZ where the two sides can meet face to face. This is where Donald Trump met with Kim Jong Un back in 2019. They will tell you to leave all your bags on the bus however, you will be allowed to bring your phone and camera. You will also be required to sign a document acknowledging that you know you are entering a hostile area.
You will go on another bus that will take you directly to the DMZ. However, a strict dress code focuses mainly on not having any slogans that might offend North Korea. The soldier guiding the tour will also tell you not to make any contact with waving, speaking, etc., to the North Korean soldiers.
The Freedom House
Once arriving at the DMZ, you will be led into the Freedom House. The Freedom House has meeting rooms on the border of South and North Korea. Therefore, once you pass the conference table in the middle of the Conference room, you are technically in North Korea. Here you will be able to take pictures for a very limited time. You will even be allowed to take pictures with the guards. These guards are the best in the Korean military and must hold a black belt in Taekwondo.
The Conference Road holds the Conference room and three other buildings colored blue or gray. The gray buildings belong to North Korea, and the blue buildings belong to South Korea. From here, you can see North Korean soldiers guarding their posts. However, you can take more pictures for a limited time here.
The Dora Observatory is where you will be able to see North Korea. It is 304 square feet, 500-person capacity observatory. You can use many high-powered binoculars for 500 won (2 minutes). This is the only place to get a wide view of North Korea. Make sure to check out the Propaganda Village, which is empty and is a fake village built by North Korea. In addition, you will be able to see a massive North Korean flag pole, the world’s highest flagpole. Moreover, what is interesting about the observatory is that it blasts Kpop music and messages of capitalism on a continuous loop into North Korea. Propaganda from North Korea is also played against South Korea.
You can check out the infiltration tunnels built by North Korea in hopes of one day invading South Korea. In total, there have been four tunnels have been discovered. The first tunnel was discovered in 1974; the most recent was in 1990. Furthermore, one of the tunnels is so big that it can bring over 30,000 troops into South Korea per hour. The tunnels can go as deep as 75 meters below ground. Sadly, you cannot film or take pictures inside the tunnels.
Visiting the DMZ in Korea is a one-day trip. No hotels, motels, or pensions in Korea anywhere close to the DMZ. So make sure you plan and go with an experienced travel company. There is also a half-day tour that will last around 5 hours.