On TV it's us against them, axes of evil and all that. I'm no friend of communism, especially the cult of personality version they practice in North Korea. I've taken sides and have done my fair share of saber rattling, at least in my own mind. In 1953 North and South Korea agreed on a ceasefire, but no treaty was ever signed. So they are still technically at war.

Tara and I took a USO guided tour of the demilitarized zone or DMZ. A copy of the waiver we signed can be downloaded here. The DMZ is a 4km area that stretches the entire length of the N/S Korean border. In the center or 2km from each side is the actual "border." It’s demilitarized because arms over 60 caliber are not allowed. I was expecting a casual, largely ceremonial show of sovereignty after so many years. I was wrong, it was incredibly tense.

There were heavily fortified checkpoints every few minutes. Signs for mines were posted just off the roads where our bus was driving. The DMZ has more mines per square foot than anywhere else on earth. Soldiers are staring at each across the border all day; only about 30 feet apart. The border is marked on the ground between the buildings on Conference Row by concrete slabs.

Our US army escorts only allowed us to point our cameras towards North Korea for fear of spying. Chinese and Korean nationals are not allowed in the DMZ without special permission.

I wasn't prepared for my reaction. I became very very sad. Years of watching foreign conflicts on TV have sapped my empathy for the realities of war, almost becoming callous. In person it was just tragic. What made things worse is North Korea has unfriended South Korea on Facebook.

1 comment:

  1. Hi guys. No words to describe how impressed we all are with your journey. Awesome photos!!! And detailed description of your feelings is touching and important to us. Stay safe and keep us updated. We can’t wait to have you back home! XOXO