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Seoul Shock: Stepping Inside North Korea

Seoul Shock is Danielle Davidson’s firsthand experience of living abroad in South Korea.

A North Korean soldier looked at the group with a pair of binoculars from a vantage point across the border, and the guide was frantic about telling people not to point, wave or make any attempt to communicate with the other side.

The border between North Korea and South Korea runs from coast to coast across the peninsula and represents over 50 years of tension between the two.

Korea is divided at the 38th parallel in the north and the ROK (Republic of Korea) in the south. The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) serves as a border between the two countries still technically at war, and also serves as a
reminder to both sides of the country’s painful history.

Despite the ever falling and rising tensions between the two, people are allowed to visit the DMZ, but only foreigners are allowed in Panmunjoem to step across the boundary between the nations.

I got the chance to visit the DMZ and Panmunjeom, and can only describe the experience as engaging and heartfelt.

The bus drove north of Seoul for a good hour and a half before reaching of the third infiltration tunnel. The tunnel is a remnant of an attempt of the north to dig its way to the southern capital, Seoul.

After trekking the narrow tunnel I reached the end and crouched a bit to look through the square peek hole at a metal door.