[personal profile] niori_1709
The Cheol Won Area is where we went in the afternoon. Our first stop in this area was where we went for lunch. We took a lunch break in one of the smallish towns located in the DMZ. The restaurant was located next to a canyon. Despite the trek down, I went...and I'm glad I did. It was beautiful there, and more than that, it was calming. It was one of those places that you find by accident, that you wander into and feel a sense of peace. I sat down there for awhile. It's one of those places I could sit all day and not get bored. The fact that this peaceful place is in a place so haunted by past hostilities and with such a heavy military presence, made it so much more special. I wish I could have stayed there longer, and felt a genuine pang when I left.

After lunch, our first stop was Tunnel 2. As I mentioned last month, the tunnels are infiltration tunnels North Korea dug in order to secretly funnel troops to Seoul if war ever broke out again. Tunnel 2 was found in 1975, and it was the better of the two tunnels we went to. This one had actual soldiers guarding the entrance, and at the end of the tunnel. By the time we got to Tunnel 2, I was exhausted. I was under the impression it would be just like Tunnel 3, especially in how much effort it would take, so I'm sad to say I decided to not go down. This was a mistake, as I found out later. Not only was it not as physically taxing, and the tunnel itself was more impressive. It was the better of the two tunnels, and if you find yourself in the DMZ with time to see only one tunnel, I'd recommend Tunnel 2.

Right beside the Tunnel 2 site, there's a small room with military artefacts on display. Below that display room, there is a small store. At that store, you can buy actual North Korean money. There's numerous denominations, and all of them are suitably propaganda-like.

After Tunnel 2, we went to the Cheorwon Peace Observatory. If you remember from last month, we went to another observatory in the morning, and it was impossible to see anything through the fog. Thankfully, by the time we reached the observatory in the afternoon, the fog had cleared enough to actually see the highlights of the area. There aren't as many highlights in this area, but the ones there were still interesting.
The observatory is the northern most part of South Korea, and built on Bsekma Hill, a hill that changed hands thirty-four times in just ten days during the Korean War. It offers some spectacular views, and from there I could see North Korea! Admittedly, most of what you can see from the observatory is mountains, but there are still a few other things visible. The first is the Propaganda Village. It's been abandoned for a long time, but it was still interesting. If you haven't guessed it, it's a village the North Koreans set up, with propaganda slogans printed all over the place. You can also see a North Korean guard post, which unlike the Propaganda Village, is still in operation. Last, but not least, is the ruins of a palace from the Koguryo Period. The prince at the time moved his palace/capital during hostilities. The ruins are in the two mile no man's land. In fact, the boarder cuts right through the ruins, cutting them in half. The history lover in me finds it terrible, that this piece of history will be forever cut off from the world, because of where it happens to sit.

On a side note, out front of the observatory, there's a tank on display. It's pretty much a photo op area, and you are able to climb all over the thing.

After the observatory, we traveled to the White Horse Hill Memorial Monument. White Horse Hill was a key hill for strategist reasons during the Korean War. It was also the site of the bloodiest battle of the Korean War. The hill changed hands twenty four times in ten days, and so many shells fell that it completely changed the face of the mountain. It was renamed White Horse Hill because, from the air post-battle, it looked like a white horse lying down. The memorial site isn't on the actual White Horse Hill (though you can see the hill from the top), but on a hill close by.

The memorial is in three parts. The first is the actual memorial stone. The second is two museum display rooms. One of those rooms focuses on the general who won the battle, and the second on the three heroes of the battlefield. The two sides were at a complete stalemate because they'd run out of supplies. In a desperate move, the three soldiers snuck into the Chinese command with a grenade. They lost their lives and turned the tide of the battle. There's a bronze statue mounted on the wall, and it's made of actual shell casings that fell during the battle. There are also displays that hold artefacts, mostly weapons, that were found in the aftermath of the battle. After the display rooms, there are two giant twin pillars half way up the hill. At the top of the hill, the memorial concludes with a pavilion and a dharma bell (much like the Peace Bell I mentioned last month). From that pavilion, you can see White Horse Hill.

There was one last thing I saw during my day at the DMZ., and thankfully, it was something we could see from the comfort of the bus. It was an old, abandoned building. It was in complete disrepair, and looked like something out of a horror movie. That was my impression before I learned what the building actually was. It's an old North Korean administration building from the Korean War. It's a place where they held and tortured their prisoners. I'm glad we didn't stop, and not just because I was tired. A building like that, where that much pain, hopelessness and horror happened? I want to be nowhere near it. It was, I think, the best thing to see last- the last reminder about what all of what he had seen during the day was actually was. It was all about war, and here was a reminder of how horrible war actually is.

There you have it. The two entry saga of the DMZ has come to a close. I'll see you next month with an all new adventure.

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