Korea: The Land of the Morning Calm

Updated on December 14, 2018
david tee profile image

Dr. David Thiessen lived all over Korea. The DMZ was his second home.

You can experience this morning calm throughout the Korean peninsula. I did when I visited all of these sites.

Experience the DMZ

Once you pass through the inspection points, all rules of normal life seem suspended. There is no hustle and bustle at all in the DMZ—just quiet existence. There, a person can enjoy one of the best-preserved natural areas of the world.

Of course, there are rules to follow when you are in the DMZ, but those are more for safety than anything else. If you want to see the DMZ via a tour, you can start by looking in Seoul. The Lotte hotel is home to many Panmunjeom tour companies.

The only drawback is the sensitivity of the area. These tours can be cancelled at any time without notice.

Sunrise Park & Lighthouse

One of the best places to feel the calm that comes with Korean mornings is a side stop called Sunrise Park & Lighthouse. This park is located on an east-coast cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Feel the morning calm as you watch the sun rise over the eastern horizon. The beauty of the ocean combines with the splendor of the sunrise to bring you a morning calm you may not have experienced before.

Imjimgak

You have a little choice with this location. You can either take the train to Dorasan station, transfer to a bus to get to the third tunnel and Dora Observation post. Or you can get a bus tour for the same location.

The train station is right outside of the park waiting for tourists to fill it. The bus tour office is right in the heart of the park beneath the large ceremonial bell. The cost at both is a lot cheaper than if you started your tour in Seoul.

While you are waiting for your tour to begin, you can tour the park. Imjin Park is filled with exhibits and things to do. An observation building with western and Korean restaurants gives you a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding area. Plus, the Freedom Bridge is just a few yards away. At the one end are all the prayers for trapped loved ones and for reunification.

For children, there is an amusement park, or they can ride the mini train. If you are hungry, there is a grassy picnic area on the east side of the parking lot. Or if you did not bring your own food, you can buy your lunch at one of the many traditional Korean restaurants.

There is something for everyone at Imjin.

Punchbowl

This is the name given to the geographic area where a key Korean War battle was fought. The name stuck because the valley looks like a punchbowl. The real name is Haean-myeon, Yanggu-gun, Gangwon Province. It is a long drive to get to this DMZ location, but it is worth every mile.

In the small town is the North Korean Hall, where you can get facts about the two Koreas and the war that divided them. Next to this hall is the civic building where you get your passes to enter the DMZ.

Also, at Punchbowl is the fourth tunnel and the Eulji Observation post. If you are driving, which is about the only way to get to this North Korea overview, watch your brakes. The road up and down is very steep.

Sokcho

This is the easternmost entrance to the DMZ. To get there, you need to travel to the east coast city Gangneung, then turn north. Whether you drive or take a tour bus, there are a lot of interesting stops along the way. There is even a campground if you want to camp the Korean way.

Before you enter the DMZ, you must make a stop at the checkpoint building, pay your fee and get your pass. Inside the building, there are lots of souvenir vendors who would love to help you spend your money.

The drive is tranquil, like all DMZ roads, and before entering the park with the observation post, you will come to the Peace Museum. This has many artefacts and other exhibits about the war and life on the Korean Peninsula.

The park itself has small museums, a train restaurant, a long walk up to the observation building and other wartime remnants. Each place provides excellent photo opportunities.

Cheorwan

This is the location of the second tunnel dug by the North Koreans in a failed attempt to invade the South. Your first stop is the Cheorwan Park where you get your pass and can see the natural beauty that is a big part of Korea.

Once inside the DMZ, you will be taken to Woljeong-ni Station, where an old North Korean train lies rusting away. You will also find the second tunnel and the Cheorwan Peace Observatory not too far away. Everything in this area runs on a strict time schedule, so do not be late.

This is probably the most beautiful area of all the DMZ tourist spots.

Observation Posts

There are two observation posts where most tourists do not go. They are off the beaten path and not well advertised. It is bare bones at both, but you can see North Korea quite well, as it is only just across the fence. You get an up-close and very personal view of the communist country.

The drawback is you are not allowed to take pictures of the North from these spots.

Some Honorable Mentions

If you travel highway 3 north of Donducheon, you will get to the DMZ. The path forward is blocked by the DMZ checkpoint. If you turn left, you will find a quaint park dedicated to the memory of the Korean War.

It is good for hiking and having a quiet picnic. When you get to the observation lookout, there is another ceremonial peace bell. There was a time you were able to ring it, but maybe not anymore.

If you turn right at the junction, you will come to the old North Korean Labor building. A must-stop for any DMZ tourist. It is said that the people taken in there came out a changed person.

But that is not all. Less than a kilometer south from the labor building (and a place no one goes to) is the old Methodist Church. Once a center for anti-North Korean activities, it was taken over by the North Koreans and used for torture and other nefarious acts.

A new church has been built at the site, but the old remains are still there, rarely seen by any tourist.

Some Final Words

Even though the views throughout the DMZ bring the reality of what happens with war, you can still sense the morning calm no matter where you go in that fenced-off land. Life is just different once you pass the checkpoint and enter the DMZ.

© 2018 David Thiessen

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      14 months ago from UK

      Your writing gives a great introduction to Korea.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, wanderwisdom.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)