North Korea: As close as MERS lets you get.

So last weekend Minjae and I decided to head north to try get as close as possible and get a glimpse of the border to one of the strangest country in this world: North Korea. Sadly ‘as close as possible’ isn’t very close these days due to a recent MERS outbreak in Seoul. Most tourist trains to the DMZ stopped running for the time being and practically all tours are cancelled. This also puts a tragic end to my plans of visiting the famous Joint Security Area (JSA) with its blue buildings and a direct view of North Korean soldiers. I’m starting to think that the travelling god doesn’t want me to achieve my goals. Looking at you, cloudy Fujisan.

Anyway, without any seemingly direct way of getting there, we decided to take the subway and busses to make our way to Paju City and later Imjingak, where the famous railroad bridge as well as the Freedom bridge are located. I’ll stop bothering you with boring words and information that anyone can read up on Wikipedia now and start showing some pictures:

Bus to the DMZ
For those of you who wondered what Korean people usually travel with: This is what it looks like. The bus was small, crowded but to my personal wellbeing climated. Anway, we used this to travel from Mansan Station (the last subway station from Seoul and about 1 hour away from the city center. The prices for public transportation still surprise me after almost two months, The whole trip to Imjingak and back to Seoul with one transfer costs no more than 3 €. That’d be about 1453 € 2nd class Deutsche Bahn + 12 hours delay and 3 ticket controls back home in Germany.
Rice fields near Paju City
Travelling through the more rural areas of Korea basically gets you a similar image every time. Rice fields next to rice fields and some rice fields. I really do like the view though, especially when the landscape is being mirrored in between the rice plants.
Imjingak Military Airplane
This airplane was for display near Imjingak Peace Park. You know me, I love airplanes so don’t act so surprised about this totally unrelated image.
DMZ Fence near Imjingak
Shot of the fence warding off the DMZ. You can see an outpost here and those are actually manned. There’s an awful lot of soldiers patrolling the fence and it kind of makes you feel how unstable the conflict actually still is.
Imjingak Railroad Bridge, Bridge of Freedom, Old Railroad Bridge full view
This is a shot from the observation platform in Imjingak. You can see the new railroad bridge to the left, the Bridge of Freedom in the middle and the old railroad bridge to the right. The latter collapsed I think.
Imjingak Gaseong Seoul Sign
This sign shows you the distance to Seoul and the nearest North Korean town called Gaesong. As you can see, it’s really close. So close yet so far away. Man I’m really poetic and deep today.
Imjingak Railroad Bridge
This is the Imjingak Railroad Bridge, which connects the north to the south. Imjingak is actually the second to last stop. The final destination being Dorasan station. We really wanted to go there but MERS kinda cancelled those plans for us.
Imjingak Railroad Bridge Sideview
Another shot of the railroad bridge.
 Bridge of Freedom
So this is the infamous Freedom bridge. It was once used to carry prisoners of war and injured soldiers away from the north. These days it has become a popular tourist destination, as you can see by us tourists destinating towards it.
nice temple in imjingak
I’m not quite sure if this is a temple or not. It just looked nice. Maybe I should’ve read up more about the place I visited but hey, nobody’s perfect.

Today I have no food pictures to you. That is mainly because I forgot to take any. Sorry for that!

This weekend we’ll travel to Busan and visit some places on the way there. Stay tuned for more sightseeing updates soon!

xoxo Robin

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