After arriving at Incheon airport and catching the train into Seoul, I checked into my hotel in Dongdaemun and went for a walk about in the cool winter afternoon. Lightly Frosted.
Cheonggyecheon, an 8.4 km creek flowing west to east through downtown Seoul, and then meeting Jungnangcheon, which in turn connects to the Han River. Cheonggyecheon was covered over with concrete in 1968 for roads before being uncovered again in 2005 with a urban renewal project.
Indoor Korean BBQ.
And dinner at a local restaurant for a very reasonable 12,000 won.
Island. Off to explore more of Seoul on day 2.
Forever Thanks. A memorial with the flags of all the countries who fought for the South during the Korean war.
Hune, my tour guide for a walk around of Insa-dong for a tour of the 'Soul of Seoul'.
Seoul Central Station.
Steaming hot food at Namdaemun Market.
Fruit & Nuts.
The Han River from N Seoul Tower. Gangnam ('South of the River') on the right.
The plan for day 3 was to take the USO tour to the Korean Demilitarised Zone. At Dora Observatory, situated on a hill on the South Korean side of the DMZ. Had an awesome view into North Korea but unfortunately this is as far as the camera's were allowed to go:(.
Dorasan Railway Station. Built ~6 years ago with ambitious plans to have passenger trains crossing over to North Korea and then connecting onto the Siberian rail network. Currently unused however with the tense relationship between the North & South.
With two US military policemen queueing up at the JSA (Joint Secuirty Area).
At the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the border of North and South Korea. Panmungak, the main North Korea building in the background with a lone North Korea Soldier standing out front. About -15C when I took this:(!
Our guide in the JSA, Private 1st Class Martinez. Personnel assigned to the JSA must score high in Army aptitude tests (to weed out the trigger happy grunts I guess).
The R.O.K. (Republic of Korea) guards must be at least 177cm tall and have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do or Judo. They stand with a modified taekwondo stance with fists clenched. The two guards near the corner of the buildings have only half of their body exposed to present less of a target for the North Koreans.
One of the R.O.K. guards in main conference room on the border. The conference rooms that are straddled on the border are the only places in the JSA where both sides can meet.
Just the view from the window from the main conference room. The concrete marker on the far right delineates the border between the two countries so I'm technically I'm in North Korea at this point.
Another of the R.O.K. guards at the main conference table where the two countries meet for diplomatic talks. The border runs through the table, with South Korean territory on the left and North Korea on the right.
A memorial in the JSA where two US officers were killed in 1976 by DPRK solders after attempting to trim a poplar tree that obstructed the view from one of the observation points. In response the US & South Korea launched a 'show of force' with Operation Paul Bunyan. This involved a 23 vehicle convoy with 16 engineers with chainsaws, 120+ security personnel, 27 helicopters, several circling B-52 bombers and F-4 fighter escorts behind them, and one aircraft carrier stationed just offshore. Fortunately the tree was cut down to its trunk without further incident!
The sun setting over the North Korean propaganda (i.e. potemkin/fake) village of Kijŏng-dong. The flagpole is the third tallest in the world at 160 meters tall.
The 'Bridge of No Return' where prisoner swaps occurred after the end of the Korean War and after the Pueblo Incident. Also as seen in the movies 'Die Another Day' and 'Salt'.
Back at Camp Kim in Seoul.
At Gyeongbokgung Palace, which was rebuilt after in 1989 after it was destroyed during the occupation of Korea by the Japanese (1910-1945).
Obligatory holiday selfie.
A walk around Gangnam in the afternoon.
Cheonggyecheon in the evening.
Lots of steam & kimchi at Gwangjang Markets.
About to enjoy my last dinner in Seoul.
Bangsan Big Slurp!
Seodaemun Prison. Where the Japanese locked up dissidents in Seoul during the occupation of Korea.
Exercise yard at the prison, designed to keep the prisoners segregated and to stop them communicating with each other.
Gwangjang Market again for lunch.
Off to Incheon International after a 'cool' few days in Seoul!