I have lots to note... So brace yourself for a long entry. But there are pictures :) So that helps :P
On Wednesday Tyler and I, along with a few other couples got the privilege of touring the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ, that separates North and South Korea. I personally loved the tour. This is the area I'm talking about just so you get the idea.
As you can see Seoul is pretty close to this boarder. It only took us and hour via bus to get there. We got to actually step foot inside North Korea! We saw North Korean Soldiers and they, of course, saw us. Not going to fib here, it was a little terrifying! We were told not to make any gestures because they could be misinterpreted... EEEK! They were even taking our pictures! We saw them on top of the white building you see in the background.
So after that lovely experience we went to one of the buildings they use to host talks with North Korea. Our guide pointed out the foot prints all over all the tables and that all the chairs had been pulled out. North Korea does this as a sign of disrespect to the South and America. By the end of this entry you see why people call them, "crazy Koreans." The blue buildings in the fore ground are where this little event took place.
Next stop... Propaganda Village! This small village was built by North Korea's first "President" (or dictator in my opinion) Kim Il Sung as a way of enticing South Korean residents to defect in the 1950's. It was painted bright blue, faced the South and rest's under the worlds largest flag belonging to North Korea. It weighs 600 lbs and takes 45-50 men to lower and take it down. No one has ever lived there and it was built for that purpose alone. Hence the name Propaganda Village. If you click on the image you can really tell the buildings are just empty shells.
The next few quips will really give you a really good idea of what North Korea and it's government are like. For starters..... The boarder has guard towers, obviously. And in between watch towers 3 and 4, there was a large tree obstructing view into North Korea. South Korea and it's allied forces informed North Korean government they were going to remove this tree. While doing so North Korean Soldiers attacked and "axed to death", 2 United Nations Soldiers. The large cement ring around the memorial is the size of the tree trunk that once stood there.
Next is The Bridge of No Return.
This is the branch point where POW's were released after the North and South Korean War, being told they could choose which country they took up residence in..... But whichever country they chose they could "Never Return." On our particular tour we noticed something at the North end of the bridge. Our tour guide looked with binoculars and told us they were 3 dead dogs. He says it happens quite frequently as a sign of disrespect to the South and American forces.
There is also a small farming community inside the DMZ. The farmer and their families are watched over 24/7. We saw a man discing his field and there were 2 South Korean Soldiers watching over him. The families that belong to this specific group, have very strict rules to live under. The have to be in their homes with windows and doors locked every night by midnight and are only allowed to be away from their homes 124 nights per year. Also, the children that grow up under these hazardous conditions are allowed to pick any school of their choice, in South Korea, and it is completely paid for. Farming families also do not pay taxes and are guaranteed to make $82,000 per year.
As a conclusion on this subject... Tyler and I bought some Blueberry wine and whiskey made by North Korean citizens. We plan on keeping the whiskey as a reminder of our time there. Overall it was a great tour. It reminded us all that North Korea is still very hostile and this conflict is still very much alive today.
On a lighter note.... My Dad is doing well. Just sleeping a lot. My sister went to prom last week. I hope I am actually there next year for her Senior prom. Thank goodness she took pictures for her big sister. I just wanted to share. Her boyfriend, who dumped her last year 2 days before prom, decided not to do with her this year..... errrr. I wish she lived in a larger town where there are more boys to choose from. So Shelly went with her best friend Avery and had a blast! I was so glad she went and had a good time WITHOUT her boyfriend :) Here are some pictures of the beautiful ladies.
My sis is the one in yellow...
Aren't they stunning?! Wish I could be home!!! I'm missing out on so many things in her life :( It's hard being away from your best friend.
Well I guess this post has "worn out it's welcome" so to speak. So tonight's big plans involve dinner and Karaoke with friends... Oh my goodness. This is bound to be interesting :P Until next time... Chao!