Reunification Observatory

Trip Start Feb 24, 2006
Trip End Dec 31, 2007

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Flag of Korea Rep.  ,
Saturday, April 15, 2006

Being where the school is located, it puts us pretty close to the disputed border, the famous DMZ (demilitarized zone), that seperates North and South Korea. Chris came up for the weekend and on Saturday we went with Cortney and Lysa (two Canadian teachers at my school) and Jason (Lysa's Kiwi boyfriend) to the Reunification Tower at the northern-most edge of our province. It was a nice drive barring the fact that we only had one tape to listen to the whole ride, hits from the 80's, which was fun the first two times and then became aggravatingly annoying! The only real interesting part of the drive there was that we kept passing these huge, camoflauge-covered concrete blocks alongside the road. Turns out that these huge blocks are actually explosives and they are on every road leading from the border. Apparently, in case the North Koreans somehow made it through the landmine filled DMZ, these road blocks (haha, get it) would be exploded in order to slow down the enemy tanks! It's really fun and exciting to drive between several hundred pounds of 50 year old explosives every five minutes!

Anyway, we eventually made it to the border and rambled up the hundreds of steps to the reunification observation point and tower. The area is pretty interesting with great views, a giant and gleaming white Buddha, and a less massive virgin Mary statue (I have no idea why). Rounding the observation deck we got our first view into North Korea and it was amazing; amazing because it pretty much looked just like South Korea...excpet there were no people or buildings or cars! So we poked around and took everything in and then Chris and I sauntered down to see the virgin Mary statue and we notice a Korean War tank. It was stripped down and meant for kids to be able to climb on, so of course we did and it was just funny to get this view of a virgin Mary and the Buddha, great symbols of peace and love, directly behind a menacing military tank - one of those had to be there sort of things! After the border, we cruised the countryside and went to a far off temple, Geonbongsa, which turned out to be one of Korea's oldest. It was a neat little temple out in the middle of nowhere, but the siple fact is that if you've seen one Korean temple you've pretty much seen them all. When the Japanese took over the Korean peninsula they burned, well, yeah, they burned down everything. So when Korea rebuilt they used the idea of comformity, basically buidling every temple like every other temple. Who knows, maybe at one point in history Korean temples were beautiful and striking, but that day has passed and a Korean temple is a pretty uneventful experience. But, we did have fun driving around and getting about our province and experiencing a bit of Korean culture. Basically it was just good to get out of the house and it was definitely good to have Chris come visit again!
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