Trip to Korea and the DMZ

Today we tour Seoul Korea or more specifically the DMZ. I believe we would have enjoyed the opportunity to spend more time in Korea but the ship arrived at 10:00am and left at 10:00pm. The ship cancelled our planned trip to the DMZ due to lack of time. To overcome this obstacle, we scheduled a private tour which will take us to the DMZ if the ship arrives on time and the traffic in this city of 28 million people will allow us to get back to the ship on time. From the port of Incheon, which gained fame as the landing place for our troops in the Korean War, we head north about 50 miles to a 3 mile buffer of land along the 38th parallel which became known as the DMZ and which stretches across the entire peninsula known as the DMZ. We come to a bridge with ribbons, flowers, and notes from well wishers to their friends and relatives trapped in North Korea. It is important to note that we never signed a peace treaty with the North Koreans at the end of the conflict. In the decades since the end of the conflct, the South Koreans have become a major industrial power but they are consumed with dreams of reunification even if it comes a huge economic costs to the south. China, long a North Korean ally, has become increasingly concerned with the new North Korean dictator, Kim Yong Jun and his braze threats of nuclear war. The approach to the DMZ in the West is almost like an amusement park. Carnival rides have been built and people are even flying kites. It is an incredible contrast to what we can see of North Korea which is drab farm land. The North Koreans are unpredictable dangerous and right in the South Koreans back yard. Ironically, the DMZ has become a wild life corridor with millions of birds. Some of the birds are here for the long winter in Siberia. Others have made a permanent home here. We also saw small deer and were told that the Siberian tigers can be found in the woods along the DMZ. I would have loved one more day here with my birding scope and a snow suit to peer through the spirals of barbed wire to the wild life along the river below. James takes the opportunity to walk down 435 feet into the ground to see the tunnels built by the North Koreans under the DMZ after the war was over. These tunnels, later discovered by the South Koreans, were to be used to reinvade South Korea. So much for dictators standing by their agreements. Reminds me of the negotiations going on with Iran while we are over here.