Touring the De-Militarized Zone with Yonsei Mentor and Buddies Program, Seoul, South Korea

Authored by:
Kasey C.

Kasey C.

My Yonsei mentor took our group on a tour of the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ) between north and south Korea. I was an extremely eye-opening experience. It was something that was on my bucket list to do, and I am so glad I was able to experience it with my Yonsei buddies and mentor.

We were driven to the military base, where soldiers checked our passports and paperwork. We were then able to visit the museum and see an informational video explaining the significance of the DMZ. I was surprised by how optimistic and peaceful the museum was, focusing on the hope for reunification. I also learned that the DMZ is a very important natural refuge for wildlife. With no humans, animals are able to thrive undisturbed in their natural habitat.

After the museum, we went down the first of the four tunnels that were built by North Korea to invade South Korea. Walking down the long tunnel and finally looking out of the small hole in the wall to see the grass in North Korea made something that had always felt so distant, feel so real and scary. My heart was racing as I struggled to grasp that I was just feet away from North Korea. I can better understand the panic and fear when the tunnels were first discovered.

We then went to an observation deck to look out and see North Korea. The fog made it difficult to capture the moment in photos, but watching the North Korean flag flap in through the fog was very eerie but also very interesting. I was surprised by how similar it looked from a distance to other cities. I am so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to learn more about the relationship between North and South Korea. I think everyone studying abroad should try to visit the DMZ or JSA to learn more about the politics of the peninsula and the international influence it has.

I really enjoy all the time I have spent with my buddy group. In our small group, we have people from Russia, Japan, Singapore, Scotland, America, and South Korea. It is so interesting to hear about their perspectives and learn more about different countries. Grabbing Dunkin Donuts while waiting for our tour to begin, coming back from the DMZ on the subway, or eating bibimbap in Hongdae; these seemingly mundane activities are enjoyable because of the lovely people whose laugher and smiles make it unforgettable.

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