If you are visiting Korea, there is a place you need to see besides Seoul. It’s near the border between South and North Korea. We have been apart for 70 years and we are the only separated country in the world.
This factor made the cities near the border touristic destinations, and I visited two of them- Cheorwon and Yeoncheon- with my friends from America and China. Both DMZ tours are a day trip but we wanted to go to both of them so we spent a night in Yeoncheon.
We booked tickets a month early and took a DMZ train from Seoul station which headed to Baekmagoji, the last station before North Korea. The train departed at 9:30am and arrived at 11:45am. I recommend that you book a ticket in advance because it is popular among Koreans and they get fully booked quickly.
You can either book a tour package beforehand or apply on the way in the train. The train crews ask you which tour you want to join.
We are here at Baekmagoji! We paid beforehand but people who applied to join a tour in the train paid when they got off.
Lunch time! Cheorwon is well known for good-quality rice because it does not have any factories so it has clean air and environment. We stopped by a town very close to the border and had a lunch which ajummas (아줌마: married or marriage aged women) prepared for us.
Super healthy and authentic Korean food 🙂 All kinds of Namul (나물: seasoned vegetable dish), spicy pork, and Doenjang soup (Korean bean sauce soup)! It’s a buffet, so you can eat as much as you want.
I’m sorry that I am in every picture lol. Cheorwon used to be full of communists and this place used to be a communist office 60 years ago. Between Korean Independence Day from Japan and the beginning of the Korean War, there were so many people tortured and killed because they were against communism.
When I thought about them being tortured in the same place where I was, I was filled with respect towards them courageously fighting against communism.
Then, we went to see a trail which used to connect the South and North. The white letters say “broken trail.”
Because nobody lives here and the nature is untouched, it is incredibly beautiful. You should see this. It can’t be described in words.
This is us in front of the General Outpost (GOP) office. You get to listen to the explanation about GOP and Guard Post (GP; very front of the border) from a lieutenant.
Just a quick explanation for those who don’t know. I fully understood it during this trip.
- GOP guards the Southern Limit Line. Over the line, it is called the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which is about 4 km to the Northern Limit Line.
- There is the actual border in the DMZ and GP guards there. From GP, you can clearly see North Koreans in their GP. But.. you can’t go in unless you are authorized by UN.
The trip ends around 4pm and tourists usually go back to Seoul station. However, we wanted to stay in another city near the border, Yeoncheon, so we spent a night there.
In the morning, we had a nice, chill-out breakfast and headed to Shintanri station where the tour began. If you come from Seoul station, you just need to book a ticket and apply for the tour on the train as the Cheorwon tour.
This tour does not include lunch, but gives you time to eat. We joined the group and headed to the first place.
The first place was beautiful Jaein Falls. Look at the water color 🙂 We took many many many pictures.
Then we went to the Herb museum. It was not the best but good to see flowers and take pictures.
Then the last place was Taepoong observatory where you can see North Korea. You can’t take a picture there for security problem. Honestly, you just see mountains and trees, not houses or people, but I was glad to be close to North Korea at least.
On the way to Seoul, we took this picture for a photo contest but did not win 🙁 It was a fun and unforgettable trip with my friends 🙂 I strongly recommend taking the DMZ tour!
I booked a ticket in Korail but there are many DMZ tours if you google it. This tour did not have an English translator so I needed to translate for my friends, but I believe there is a tour in English or Chinese.
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