Seoul Day 5: Panmunjeom Tour


After lunch, we continued our journey to Panmunjeon. Panmunjeon lies 50km north of Seoul along the Tongilro. It is the place where the Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27th, 1953.

Foreigners who possess passports and those who are over 10 years old may enter. For natives, only group tours (30-43 people) are permitted to those who are authorized after personal identification clearance.

We switched bus to a blue UN bus at the Camp Bonifas which is the base camp for the UN Command Security Force. A guard travel with us to the JSA. We were not allowed to bring anything except the camera in hand (no case allowed). All personal belongings must be in your pocket; no bag allowed.

We were advised to walk in twos in a row and no finger pointing at the North Korea direction. This is a serious tour.

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Panmumjeon is the common name but the official name of the negotiating site is the Joint Security Area (JSA).

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The JSA is the only portion of the DMZ where North and South Korean forces stand face-to-face.

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The JSA is 800 square miles and is a neutral location where the guards from North and South Korea are allowed to move freely.

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Observed how the South Korea soldier stands; half behind the building.

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Visitors are allowed to have a photo taken inside the JSA conference room where exchanges and negotiations between the North and South take place.

In this tour, we were briefed of the bridge of no return but unfortunately we were not able to see it on our tour due to some operation being conducted on that day.

The guide also told us about the Gaesong Industrial Complex where a Hyundai factory is. The founder of Hyundai is from North Korea. He built the Gaesong Industrial Complex to provide jobs to the North Korean. He also built the Cow Bridge or also known as the Unification Bridge. In order to build the bridge, he gave 1001 cows to the North Koreans.

We also learned from the guide that it’s alright to ask a new Korean female friend of her age because Korean addresses younger female as “onnie” while older female as “oppa”.

Another thing we learned was there are quite a number of concrete advertising bridges along the way. These bridges were built to slow down North Korean tanks. In case of any invasion, these bridges will be brought down by explosion as anti-tank barriers.

This is surely an educational tour.

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