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Travel

Seoul Searching: Demilitarized Zone, Common Ground, Seoul Tower

Demilitarized Zone 

Prior to our flight, I booked our Demilitarized Zone tour via DMZ Tours. We chose the basic tour which was a DMZ morning half tour for 50,000WON or PHP 2,450 per person. The tour includes an English speaking tour guide, transportation and entrance fees. The itinerary includes hotel pick-up, Imiingak Park, The Bridge of Freedom, The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, DMZ Theater and Freedom Hall, Dora Observatory, Dorasan Station and drop-off at Itaewon or City Hall Area. Your passport is needed on the tour day. 

Erika, our tour guide, picked us up at our hotel at 720AM sharp. We proceeded to the bus while she went to another hotel to pick up other guests. We were off to DMZ by 830AM. A young soldier went up our bus and checked our passports. Erika said that there are two types of soldiers – camp-based soldiers and stay-at-home soldiers. The camp-based soldiers are those who excelled in military school while the stay-at-home soldiers are those who either did not do well in military school or are breadwinners of their families. 

While Erika was buying our entrance tickets, we got a chance to roam around Imjingak Park and The Bridge of Freedom. Imjingak Park was made for refugees of North Korea who were homesick. It’s the closest location they can get to North Korea. The Bridge of Freedom was named after thousands of the Korean war survivors passed through the bridge and returned to South Korea. Hundreds of notes can be seen on the Bridge of Freedom. These notes are made for their relatives and ancestors who were stuck in North Korea. 

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Our next stop was The Third Infiltration Tunnel. Just when the people thought the war between North and South has ended, little did they know that the military in North was digging up tunnels connected to South Korea. These secret tunnels were made so the North can discreetly infiltrate South. The tunnels they made were installed with rock camouflaging bombs. But the South soldiers discovered it and made an action. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the tunnel. We were 150 meters away from the North Korea. We were also advised to wear a hard hat because the tunnel has a really low ceiling. I bumped my head twice and the echoing sound really startled me. LOL. It was suffocating because of the lack of oxygen. It was really easy going down but it was super struggle to climb up! This is not for the faint-hearted, claustrophobic or those with heart problems. Erika said there were soldiers inside the tunnel before but because there is no oxygen in the tunnel, they just use thermal meter now. 

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We also went to the Dora Observatory. It is where you can glimpse a part of North Korea. The binoculars would make you see urban areas of Gaesong, statue of Kim II-Seong and the flag of North Korea. According to Erika, the flag of North Korea doesn’t wave because it’s so heavy. It approximately weighs 250 pounds and can survive even the toughest thunderstorm. 

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Our tour’s last stop was the Dorasan Station. It was the northernmost station in South Korea which was connected to Pyongyang. It is where you can see the barbed fence of the boundary of North and South Korea. Our guide said that you can actually ride the train before but a tourist roamed around and accidentally crossed over the boundary of North Korea and she was killed. From then on, they stopped the train service. 

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Common Ground

I’m sure you guys are familiar with the popular food parks here in Manila like The Yard. Common Ground is similar to that. It’s filled with container vans which they transformed to shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s a popular place amongst tourists and Korean millennial because the place is perfect for OOTDs and photoshoots.

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We got hungry and tried a Chinese restaurant called Modern Chinese Restaurant. The food was delicious and the price was reasonable. One bowl of noodles is good for 3-4 persons. Don’t forget to try their chili shrimp.

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 Address: 17-1 Jayang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, South Korea

How to go: 

From Myeondong, take Line 2 

Get off at Konkuk Station

Take Exit 6

Seoul Tower and Love Locks

It’s an observation and communication tower located in Namsam Mountain. You can either hike up or take the cable car to get to Seoul Tower. We actually got lost going here. We took a detour and thought that it was an easier way but it was actually the start of the hike to the tower. We took a cab instead and got to Namsan Omuri (where the cable car is) in 5 minutes. The roundtrip cable car ride costs 8500WON. It’s the fastest way to get to the tower. 

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The tower was beautifully surrounded by cherry blossoms and spring flowers. The love locks are also in the area. Don’t worry if you get hungry or thirsty because there a lot of restaurants inside. If you’re planning to put love locks, buy before going there because it’s cheaper outside. 

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Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

How to go:

 From Myeondong Station

Exit 3

Walk for 10-15 minutes following the signs on the right side of the Pacific Hotel

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