Sunday, June 30, 2013

Honoring the DMZ - Dorason Station

Dorasan Station is a modern day ghost town.  From Wikipedia (link),

Dorasan Station is a railway station situated on the Gyeongui Line, which once connected North and South Korea and has now been restored. For several years the northernmost stop on the line was Dorasan Station, which is served by Tonggeun commuter trains.

On December 11, 2007, freight trains began traveling north past Dorasan Station into North Korea, taking materials to the Kaesong Industrial Region, and returning with finished goods.

However, on December 1, 2008, the North Korean government closed the border crossing, after accusing South Korea of a confrontational policy.  The station is currently served by four trains from Seoul per day for tourists.

We purchased a commemorative "ticket" for 500 won (50 cents), walked out to the platform, and greeted the incoming tourists.

Our guide pointed out the poster of President Bush's visit to Dora Station ...

... and suggested we have fun!

Should he shake from the right ... 

... or the left?

How about a pat on the back?

I chuckled at the sign because there is no other way to go. 

Next stop:  Joint Security Area.


Kim in Korea

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Honoring the DZM - Dora Observatory

As we drove from Tunnel No. 3 to the Dora Observatory, we passed the border crossing that is now closed. 

We arrived at the Dora Observatory.  From Wikipedia (link),

Dora Observatory is on the South Korean side of the 38th parallel. Situated on top of Dorasan (Mount Dora), the observatory looks across the Demilitarized Zone. It is the part of South Korea closest to the North. Visitors can catch a rare glimpse of the reclusive North Korean state through binoculars, including the North Korean propaganda village situated in the DMZ.

We were not allowed to take a photo beyond this line.   I deposited a 500 won coin into the binoculars for a wide view of North Korea.   It was the best spent 50 cents!

Next stop:  Dora Station.


Kim in Hawaii

Gotta love this promotion ...


Friday, June 28, 2013

Honoring the DMZ - Tunnel No. 3

Our tour of the DMZ took us to the Third Tunnel.   South Korea discovered several tunnels under the border which would have provided North Korea the opportunity to initiate a surprise attack.   South Korea discovered Tunnel Number 3 in October 1978 with information provided by a North Korean defector.

We were not allowed to take a camera into the tunnel ... but a door was open so I could photograph the hard hats required.

We walked down a 350 meter ramp to the tunnel.  The tunnel runs another 20 meters to where the South Koreas blocked.

South Korea still strives for unification. 

The tunnel center also offers an informative museum of the Korean Conflict.

Next stop:  Dora Observatory.


Kim in Korea

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Honoring the DMZ - Imjingak

Osan Air Base offers a weekly tour of the DMZ.   From Wikipedia (link),

The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ; Hangul: 한반도 비무장지대) is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea which runs along the 38th parallel north. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half.  It was created as part of the Korean Armistice Agreement between North Korea, the People's Republic of China, and the United Nations Command forces in 1953.

We first stopped at Imjingak.  From Visit Korea (link),

Imjingak (임진각), located 7 km from the Military Demarcation Line, is now at the forefront of tourism related to the Korean Conflict.   It was built in 1972 with the hope that someday unification would be possible. 

Above is the Peace Bell.

Sections of the bridge over the Imjin River were destroyed to prevent an invasion.  

After the armistice was signed, POWs from both sides crossed this bridge to return home.

Imjingak displays several vehicles used in the Korea conflict, including military tanks and the burned out rail enginge.

The razor wire reminds us of that Korea remains divided.

The art space gives a nation to reflect on its past and future. 

Next stop - Tunnel No. 3.


Kim  in Korea 

Aloha to Xi'an - Muslim Quarter and Drum Tower

Our guide, Betty, treated us to a walk through the Muslim Quarter.  With Xi'an as the departure point for the Silk Road, traders moved to China and brought their culture with them.   The neighborhood offers its own unique vibe.

Locals and tourists alike enjoy the wide variety of food for sale.

Notice the writing in Chinse and Arabic!

This cat slept through the hub-bub.

The Muslim Quarter leads to the Drum Tower, part of the medieval wall that circles the city.   We thoroughly enjoyed the history, culture, and warmth that China offered us!


Kim in Korea

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Aloha to Xi'an - The Terra Cotta Warriors

Tourists flock to Xi'an for the Terra Cotta Warriors.  From Wikipedia (link), 

The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

Qin Shi Huang is known for uniting China into one empire.  Thus, he spared no expense in creating full size figures armed for battle.

Upon his death, his son became the second emperor.   But his rule was weak and a revolt split the empire into 18 kingdoms.  Sadly, the rebellion came to Qin Shi Huang's tomb to destroy his Terra Cotta army to ensure the emperor would be defeated in the afterlife. 

Fast forward to 1974 when farmers dug for a well and found a terra cotta head.   The farmers, including Mr. Yang Zhifa, became ambassadors for archaeology.  For 300 renminbi (rmb), about $50, Yang took a picture with us; shook our hands, and autographed an guide book.  

The excavation area is open to view under large modern hangers covering three pits.   The archaeologists are painstakingly unearthing the pieces, fitting them back together like a puzzle, cleaning out the pits, and returning the statues in their original location.   We started in Pit Three as seen in the second and third pictures from the top.   We walked over to Pit 2 - bigger than a football field - where they continue to excavate, as seen directly above and below. 

The government recently opened a museum to house some of the treasures ... it offered respite from the heat.

The museum spotlights the ongoing archaeology efforts.   This board documents which countries have contributed.   Notice the top line for 1997, the Chinese symbols annotate "Beautiful Country" - the United States.   

Then we toured Pit 1.  Clearly, our guide saved the best for last.   Three times the size of a football field, it was simply awesome.

Notice the site of the well.

It was truly amazing to see archaeology in action.

Each Terra Cotta warrior has a unique face.

The process of tagging requires patience.

These warriors are waiting to return to their ranks.

Here's my favorite ...

... the chariot driver and his horses.   The Terra Cotta Warriors earned the title of the Eighth Wonder of the World.


Kim in Korea