This previous weekend, Adventure Korea took another trip to the DMZ, this time in Cheorwon, Gangwon-do. Before our tour around the different sites along the DMZ began, we took a brief break for lunch at the Hantangang Tourist Office. After eating, members were encouraged to walk around the small war museum, take photos of the Korean War-era tanks and planes park outside, or perhaps pose with the statue of legendary Im Kkeok-jeong. However, the real highlight was the Goseokjeong Pavilion over-looking the Hantan River. After taking in the beautiful scenery around the pavilion, it wasn¡¯t too difficult to understand King Jeonja¡¯s reasoning while building it there.
Once everyone had finished their lunches that they had either packed with them or enjoyed at the local restaurants, it was time for our group to begin the security tour of the DMZ. Our first stop of the day was the 2nd Infiltration Tunnel, which was first found in 1975. As our members donned their hardhats and waited for permission to enter the tunnel, people enjoyed posing for photos with the friendly guards at the entrance. The effort exerted in walking along the tunnel also may have given many people just the excuse they needed to eat more of their delicious dinner later in the evening. From the 2nd Tunnel, we then moved to the Cheorwon Peace Observatory, where it is possible to get a good view of the DMZ and North Korea. As the weather was cooperating quite well this time, it was possible to make out all the points of interest that were so helpfully pointed out to us by an employee of the Observatory. Our next stop was the tiny Woljeongri train station, which provided some excellent photo opportunities, before we were off to really test our bravery at the bungee jump.
The bungee jump, a 52M jump from Taebong Bridge, provided people with the chance to really get some adrenaline pumping at the DMZ. For those that chose to relax in the early evening instead, they could walk down to Jiktang Falls, Korea¡¯s Niagara in miniature, and then sit and enjoy watching their friends leap from the bridge along the Hantan River. Once everyone had completed the jump, we made one more stop at the ruins of the (North Korean) Labor Party Building, and then moved to Odaemi Village, where we would be staying the night.
Odaemi Village is a lovely, small village just 6km away from the border between the two Koreas. If we shouted loud enough, North Koreans would be able to hear¡¦ perhaps they heard some screams from the ¡°bravery game¡± that night at the Baekmagoji Monument. Everyone in the village was extremely welcoming and friendly to our group, and some members even had the opportunity to stay in locals¡¯ homes for the night. After settling in to our accommodation for the night and enjoying a great meal prepared for us, it was time for drinks and smores around the bonfire.
As we had done bungee jumping the previous day, Sunday allowed for a more relaxing experience. After a breakfast of eggs, toast, and coffee we headed back to the Baekmagoji Monument for a briefing by a soldier posted there. In impeccable English, he fully explained both the monument and the surrounding area. Our group then participated in a ¡°Mine Game¡±, which saw groups of AK members combing the hill with radios listening for the beeps of (fake) mines. The winning team was to be awarded rice, but we all ended coming away from the trip with a bag of quality Odaemi rice. Our last scheduled event was planting rice, which we did under the watchful eyes of South Korean soldiers. The soldiers were likely thoroughly amused and baffled to watch the scramble to catch three catfish in the mud.
Although the Odaemi Village DMZ trip is packed full with different sites and events, our bus arrived back in Seoul early in the evening laden with tired, yet satisfied, members. Staying overnight in the DMZ certainly provides for enduring memories and some interesting stories. I hope that everyone had as great a time as I did!