Hangin' with Kim Jong Ill

Trip Start Dec 30, 2006
Trip End Jul 27, 2007

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Flag of Korea Dem Peoples Rep  ,
Saturday, June 30, 2007

I tried to hug a North Korean border guard but I got shot.  Rather rude, I thought.

The North-South Korean border is still the most heavily fortified border in the world with upwards of 500,000 soldiers guarding it at any given time.

I took a USO tour that left from the US Military base in Seoul so we got very good access to the tense Joint Security Area (JSA).  Because of the sensitivity of the area we got a couple of soldiers join us when our bus entered the JSA and escorted us to the sights nearest to the actual border.  They where very good about telling us what we could and couldn't, say, gesture or do and when we couldn't do those things.  I don't understand why they don't want tourists just knocking about by themselves...how much trouble could happen?  Besides another war, I mean.

Since we left Seoul at 7:30 in the morning we beat all the other (much more expensive) private tour buses that showed up later in the day.

The most interesting part of the tour, I thought, was the border itself, with the three blue UN buildings used for negotiations that actually straddle the north/south border.  Each country has also built a large building on either side of these UN buildings to facilitate family reunions and meetings between the families separated by the border.  Of course, neither building has ever been used for that purpose since neither country trusts each other enough.

That hug may not have happened but I think I made a connection with a North Korean border guard who was watching me with his binoculars from a hidden window.  At least I think we did...it's hard to tell when binoculars are involved.  And, I wasn't allowed to make eye contact.
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