I guess everyone knows about the whole ordeal with the Korean War and the result of a split up Korea. The demilitarized zone is the border between North and South Korea and as tourist, you are allowed to go there as long as you are not a Korean citizen.
Everyone who is interested in Korean history should try to go there once. Remember to reserve a seat through one of the Korean travel agencies, most likely located at the Lotte Hotel in Myeongdong. Just look them up on the internet, give them your information (name, nationality, passport number) and you will get a seat. They need all those information for the soldiers there to check your identity. It’s just some formality everyone needs to go through, as well as some kind of safety protection thing.
If you want to go the “neutral” zone, it is called Panmunjeom. The security measures there are quite high so actually there is no need to be scared. Yet, with all the stories our tour guide told us, it didn’t sound that much convincing (bc how in the world can north korean soldiers sneak in to the southern side???).
Depending at what kind of tour you book, your trip to the DMZ might differ from my experiences.
So I met up with my friends early at the Lotte Hotel in Myeongdong, where we had to pay the fees and where they checked our passports to give the correct numbers to the officers at the DMZ. Afterwards we were sent to our travel bus.
The first stop on that trip was the War Memorial Museum which was not too exciting. We had a tour guide but actually, the things he told us were the common things. Things I already knew, so I would have preferred to walk around by myself and look at the exhibition by myself.
Afterwards we got to Imjingan Park, which is quite close to the DMZ, just a few kilometers away. There we had lunch and took a few photos of monuments, all not too exciting. The exciting part starts afterwards, when you drive to the DMZ. It really is kinda scary when you suddenly see soldiers walking around with guns. I nearly got a heart attack when I saw them in the parking lot of the restaurant. Their faces were painted, too, and for a dumb second I thought they might shoot us if we happened to provoke them in any way.
So once you enter the DMZ you will get close to the demarcation line. Before that, you will have to watch a slide show, sign some paper where you won’t blame the UN if anything happens, get a guest button clipped on your clothes and then you will be ushered into the UN bus to continue the tour within the DMZ.
Before, there was actually no demarcation line within the DMZ and the North and South Koreans as well as the UN people could walk around there quite freely. After the axe accident (the UN wanted to cut a poplar tree, got the OK from the NK side bc it was closer to the NK camps, started doing the work and got attacked by NK with axes. 2 UN officers died) it is strictly divided into North and South and contact is strictly prohibited.
If you go there with the intention to see North Korean people, quickly forget it. There will only be soldiers standing there on each side whenever that side has tourists. Since there were no tourists on the North Korean side on that day, there was just one lonely guard standing on the other side. He was quite far away though, so we just saw his small figure suddenly pulling out binoculars to watch us, check us out whatever.
There are a few important things to remember when going there: Do not provoke anyone in any way because it might result to violence, accidents and even death. Listen to the instructions. No photos means you are not allowed to take photos and you might have to delete all pictures on your phone/camera if you take pictures in a place you’Re not supposed to. Dress properly. They might not let you in because you don’t dress properly. Read the instructions on the website! And have your passport with you at any time. Or else they might leave you waiting in front of the DMZ.
The whole tour costs about 50€ which is okay for a one day trip, though I must say I was quite disappointed the actual tour around the DMZ was short. Really short. But if you think about it, it’s a high security zone with military from both North and South Korean walking around, you don’t want to and can’t stay there for too long.
An interesting fact about the DMZ I haven’t heard before, is there is actually a village within it. The inhibitants are surveilled by soldiers when they work on the fields at all times and no one is allowed to live there, except you have been born there or, as for females, if you marry into that village. I wonder who wants to stay there though, since rules there are strict. You have a curfew, e.g. and there aren’t as many facilities as elsewhere. There is just an elementary school and later on kids would have to move to another city to go to school.
There is also a small village on the North Korean side, which is called Propaganda City by the South Koreans, since day and night they would broadcast propaganda over the radio there. There are no people living there, at least none the Southern side knows of, so they think it just exists for the purpose of showing off and to broadcast propaganda. Whatever it is for, we will probably not know until they will reveal to us one day.
On another sidenote: The one South Korean solder accompanying us at all times there was quite cute. In fact, the ones serving at the DMZ have higher requirements: body height of at least 175cm (or 178?), fluent English skilly, a black belt in Taekwondo etc.
Because I didn’t do much during this period, but there are still memorable things. At least to myself.
I didn’T go out much because of my internship, as well as for the simple reason that I had no reason to step out of the dorms (except for the internship). So work aside, I did nothing much.
It was pure coincidence that I checked hottracks’ website and there was an announcement for a SM THE BALLAD fansign. Of course I’d want to go there. Chances to get drawn in the lottery are quite low though, and even though I bought 2 albums and got 2 entries, it’s not much (I only bought 2 bc there are two versions lol). I’m always super excited with things like these only to get disappointed alter. I was not drawn so I couldn’t go ;u;
I would’ve loved to see Chen bc he’s so precious after all and I just ugh. please let me meet exo at an official fansign for once and i will be happy for the rest of my life. i won’t demand more (except for enough work so i can earn money so not to starve, rly i don’t want much ;u;)
the other thing was some kind of sleepover party at my friend’s place. or her teacher’s place actually. her teacher was so kind to let her use her apartment for a month or so?? and so me and another friend went there and talked and watched videos with her for a few hours, before we had to go to bed and escort her to the airport on monday. luckily, i don’t have to go to my intern place on mondays, so i could send her off in incheon ;u;
i wonder though, if there will be someone to bring me to the airport when i go bc i’ll die with all the luggage i have to carry along >.<
pizza & cheese sticks @ somewhere around idae
leeum. a museum founded by samsung’s owner.
Vietnamese noodle soup & spring rolls @ Little Saigon, Itaewon
If you habe been following me for a while, you will all know that I’m not the type to go out this much. That is why I haven’t seen many corners of Seoul yet. That was also a reason why I immediately said yes to my Korean friend when she asked if I wanted to meet her in Itaewon.
In hindsight though, Itaewon is not that much fascinating and except for cafés, restaurants and shops, there is not much more (well there are a lot of clubs and bars known for the gay community and i saw a sign for a transvestite club on my way there). Somewhere close to Itaewon, you will also find the Leeum (?), which is a museum founded by Samsung’s CEO. It’s incredibly expensive and I’m not sure if you want to spend much money to see modern Arts. I’m more a fan of traditional Arts because I can’t seem to interprete.
I had Vietnamese food there, as well as hot chocolate. And I think I should meet more Korean friends or meet more often with the ones I already made to improve my language skills. Talking is still difficult to me ;u;
In the evening I met up with a German friend though, who would go home soon. She had promised me to go to a jjimjilbang together at least once and so we had dinner together (handmade pizza!!) and went to gangnam. Bc the Golden Spa was recommended on the website of the KTO and we do trust the Korean Tourism Organization ~
A Jjimjilbang is not too much different from an Onsen in Japan though. The baths are separated and you have different baths and sauna rooms there. You go in there all naked and I guess it’s okay because it’s separated between genders and after the Onsen experience I guess I got used to the idea.
Actually, I didn’t expect much to happen there, but while we were in one of the pools, a korean lady approached us (ahjumeoni, bc ahjumma sounds impolite!) and she talked to us and somehow convinced us to go to church with her the next day and she was really nice and brought us breakfast and lunch the next day. We really did take her offer and tagged along, since we had nothing better to do and she introduced us to a Korean who has been living in Germany for 7 years and was back in korea for vacation. It was quite nice, actually, and I can only recommend you to try out different things. Who knows, maybe you will meet kind people as well.
(be suspicious of religious people though if they are a little too forceful! if you tell them you don’t believe in God and they don’t try to talk you into believen him, you should be save ~)
i need to update this blog more often
You will get an E-Mail from Yonsei University, telling you everything you need to know. And really guys, just follow those instructions. Create your account and check if you can log in or else you will be doomed because you can only enroll in classes online. Doing it manually doesn’t guarantee you a seat in that class.
Two days before the actual Course Enrollment Day you can log in and check the courses offered. I can only recommend you to do this! Browse the whole catalogue and choose classes and substitute classes, in case you can’t enroll into your wished ones. It’s really a hard competition, this whole course enrollment thing, since it’s based on first come first serve.
And that brings me to the most important point: You really need to sit in front of your computer, and make sure you’re using Internet Explorer, because the website doesn’t work perfectly with other browsers, and log in about ten minutes BEFORE the actual starting time.
Two hours before you can actually enroll, you have the chance to put up a wishlist. So the classes you want to enroll in, the ones you have searched for the day before, put all of them into the wishlist and once the enrollment period begins (10 AM KST sharp!!) click on the courses on your wishlist. Just keep clicking one after the other and with enough luck, you will get into the ones you wanted.
There is one advice I can give you: Usually, they state the number of available seats to exchange students, so put your classes in the wishlist in an oder starting with the classes you really want to get in but with the least seats available. Which means KLI (Korean Language Classes) should be the last course you try to enroll to bc it is 99,99% guaranteed you will get in there!
Poster for Seoul Arts College @ Idae Station. ft. EXO’s Luhan
I can’t believe I passed that poster about a million times until my friend told me there was Luhan. Not the real Luhan, just his face on a poster orz. Miss A’s Jia, After School’s Nana and PSY went there, too.
Time Capsule for the Seoul Millennial
traditional Korean percussion performance @ Namsangol Hanok Village
(the actual traditional part start around 0:48)