Saturday, December 6, 2008

DMZ - Part Three

The final stop on the USO DMZ Tour was to The Third Tunnel of Aggression. It was dug by North Korea and discovered by South Korea on October 17, 1978. Two other tunnels were discovered previously and it is rumored that there are 17 tunnels either completed or being constructed at any given time along the DMZ.

This tunnel is located only27 miles from Seoul. It is approximately 73 meters from the surface and is 1.1 mile long. It is said that it is 2 meters wide and 2 meters high. I disagree that the height of the tunnel being 2 meters unless it has shrunk since 1978.

It is said that if used by North Korea, 30,000 troops and equipment could have passed through the tunnel in an hour. South Korea perceived these tunnel discoveries as a direct threat to South Korea. North Korea's answer was that the tunnel was part of a coal mine and even went so far as to spray paint areas black to look like coal.

A warning to those who wish to venture down into the tunnel. If you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, have bad knees or legs or are TALL (like my hubby), I wouldn't recommend the walk.
The initial entrance consists of a 358 meter descent with such a steep angle, it was hard to keep your feet from running. I found my knees really sore by the time we got to the bottom which is the entrance to the actual tunnel. In the back of my mind, I realized we would have to walk back up from where we came.
They have hard hats for you to put on before you begin to protect your head. Poor Curt (hubby), he is just shy of 2 meters and was bent to his waist just about the entire length of the tunnel. IT IS NOT 2 METERS TALL! I even had to duck my head most of the time and I'm only 5' 5". I heard a lot of groaning from Curt and when I would asked if he wanted to turn back, he never really said anything.
You are not allowed to take any pictures in the cave. At the end is a steel wall which seals the tunnel off. We looked at the wall and turned around to begin the journey back. By the time we had to climb the 358 meters back up and out of the tunnel, I was dying. It was tough.

The exit from the tunnel. The roads into the DMZ had roadblocks so that the bus had to do a zigzag pattern to get through. We were not allowed to take pictures of these roadblocks but it would be impossible to maneuver around them at a high rate of speed.

On the bus ride back to Seoul, we saw many of these guard shacks about every 100 yards. If you look closely, you can see three South Korean soldiers at the bottom of the picture. Almost all the shacks were occupied by at least one South Korea soldier.
The DMZ is the most heavily armed border in the world. I've also heard it contains the most land mines. We saw many mine warning signs. On the bus ride back to Seoul, I was surprised to see miles and miles of barbed wire.

Traffic back to Seoul was stop and go. We have often seen people selling food in the traffic jam right there on the highway.

Interesting rims on this car.

I was surprised to find out that Korean citizens cannot tour the DMZ without special authorization. It usually takes two months for the authorization. The reason is South Korea is worried some of their citizens may defect to North Korea. I find that hard to believe.

If you want a thorough and informative tour of the DMZ, I highly recommend the USO tour. Right now, it runs on Thursdays and Saturdays. I learned so much and have even more respect for those who serve in the Armed Forces.

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