Whether you are coming in from the Northern side, or the Southern side, a DMZ tour is infinitely unique and enlightening.
North Korea’s DMZ (demilitarized zone) is a buffer zone between the two Koreas, and is also one of the richest natural reserves in the peninsula.
Since this area is undeveloped, it has become a sanctuary for a lot of local wildlife, and it would actually be a good idea to visit the North Korean DMZ if you want to make your trip to South Korea more well-rounded and meaningful, as the division of the two Koreas is part of Korean history.
The DMZ has become a more historic area in recent years because of recent gestures between the North and South, suggesting that there will be more lasting peace in the future.
Inside DMZ South Side – Marcelo Druck
Surprisingly, the DMZ welcomes upwards to 1.2 million visitors every year, with no reports of military incidents arising from the tourism. The demilitarized zone spans almost three miles, and is heavily guarded by both the North and South military guards.
DMZ Train Lines
If this is your first time to visit the DMZ, it would be best to opt for safer tourist options, like the DMZ Peace Train, located at 405, Hangang-daero, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. The two-hour train trip features the splendor of that natural reserve, and spans the following areas:
- Yongsan Station (starting point)
- Imjingang Station
- Dorasan Station
- Dora Peace Park
- Tongilchon (meal)
- Dora Observatory
- The 3rd Tunnel
- Unification platform
- Yongsan station
N. Korea Dorasan Station – Masaru kamikura
There are two other lines that you can ride on: Gyeongwon Line DMZ Train and Yeoncheon Dreaming Tour. The Gyeongwon Line DMZ Train will give you the opportunity to see Durumi Village, Baengmagoji Battle Monument, and the DMZ Barbed Wire Fence Road. The Yeoncheon Dreaming Tour on the other hand, heads to the Taepung Observatory, Herb Village, Hantangang Water Culture Center, and Jaein Falls.
How To Get There
Whether you are coming in from the North Korean side or South Korean side, you need to book a tour with a company.
Koryo Tours will give you access to the anti-tank barrier and the Concrete Wall observation post from the North Korean side.
Unfortunately, residents of the United States have been banned from visiting the country since late 2017, so if you are an American, you will have to pick Seoul and book your DMZ tour from there.
DMZ Public Art Sculpture – Bjornman
Viator is a top tour provider from the South Korean side, and as you have already read, there are several places of interest from this side of the demilitarized zone. Now, in some instances, you may have access to North Korean defectors who may help you understand how life is on the other side of Korea.
Defectors are people who have escaped North Korea and have defected to the South, risking life and limb to cross the DMZ.
To put things into perspective, North Koreans who are seen escaping by the military will be shot – generously, and without remorse. While the buffer zone is arms-free, it doesn’t mean that there is absolute peace at all in the Korean peninsula – so just keep this in mind when you visit from either side.
Entrance to DMZ – Michael Day
Some things to remember to keep your trip safe and enjoyable: follow the proper dress code, follow the instructions of the tour guide, and do not take photographs without first asking if it is safe to do so.
Signaling to the other side, or to people (like farmers) who are living in the DMZ from the North Korean side is not a good idea, unless the tour guide says so. Be sure to book your trip at least seven days in advance, and enjoy your trip to this historic site that continues to define North and South relations in Korea.