Hidden GemsTravel

A visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea

DMZ

I want to go to the DMZ if I’m in South Korea! I have said that for years! It’s a weird and special place and it seemed to me to be quite an experience to be there. The DMZ is the buffer zone between North and South Korea, 4 km wide and 248 km long. It’s a kind of no-man’s country where the UN soldiers stand guard. In general, it is fairly quiet at the border. Once upon a time, however, an incident has occurred and the DMZ comes back to the news. How it’s like to visit the DMZ in South Korea?

I explain what a visit to the DMZ in South Korea looks like.

The briefing for a visit to the DMZ in South Korea

The day starts very official with a briefing by a US soldier. A presentation in which the history is explained. Here you also have to sign a form stating that you will not cross, and if something should happen that you can not hold anyone liable. This kind of makes you feel strange about the day you will experience.

visit DMZ South Korea, A visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea

Joint Security Area

First of all, under the guidance of the American soldiers, you go to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and visit the Freedom House. Here are two South Korean soldiers of a special unit. These soldiers look like dolls, but are actually people who do not make any moves. You can even join the picture. In the Freedom House, sporadic discussions are held between both countries.

The JSA is the only part in the DMZ where North and South Korean soldiers are in keeping with each other. They are staring at each other all year long, year after year. A weird job! The picture below shows how the South Korean soldiers are standing all day and shows the gray building of North Korea.

visit DMZ South Korea, A visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea

The remainder of the tour

After the JSA you will visit a viewpoint where you can see North Korea. There are binoculars and you can catch a glimpse of North Korea. Then you follow the route along the “Bridge of No Return”. Also visiting the “Freedom Bridge” (see picture below). Here are all kinds of flags, photographs and other things of families that have been taken apart by the Korean war.

Eventually you will be dropped off at a souvenir shop and a restaurant. Yes, this too can be found in the DMZ, something that really surprised and disappointed me. After lunch you will visit a tunnel. This tunnel was discovered in 1978 due to a turncoat. It is interesting to enter the tunnel (with the required helmet). This tunnel gets you within a few meters of North Korea.

visit DMZ South Korea, A visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea

My experiences from my visit to the DMZ in South Korea

All in all, it has become a decent tourist attraction and I did not expect that. The American soldiers (the tour guides during this day) regularly joked during the “tour”. For example, they call one of the gray barracks the “Monkey House” and they have given the name of Bob to the soldier standing guard on behalf of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Yet, this place is so unique in the world and really can’t be missed!

It is a strange idea to think that these two countries (which are so different in such a way) may ever be reunited.

visit DMZ South Korea, A visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea

Important information for a visit to the DMZ in South Korea

• A trip to the DMZ must be booked three days in advance with a tour organization. To do this you need to issue your passport. This can be booked through a hotel/hostel.
• You can not go there yourself!
• If you only have a few days in Seoul, book a tour on arrival!
• Costs for a DMZ tour are around € 100, – per person.
• From Seoul it is about an hour’s drive to the DMZ.
• There are clothing regulations, you can not wear clothes with certain political statements for example.


Hotel Seoul

I loved my stay at Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong.  I really liked the location, because many malls and restaurants are nearby, like 5-10 min walk. The staff was amazing! They were all friendly, helpful and super polite that they will make you feel queen or king! The breakfast is wonderful with a breathtaking view.

  • Not what you are looking for? Find here more great places to stay in Seoul!
visit DMZ South Korea, A visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in South Korea
Lotte City hotel Myeongdong

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