monday, june 20.

i visited one of the most secretive/propaganda-filled countries in the world this weekend. [NBD.]the USO provides a tour to the DMZ, and carleigh and i experienced it this saturday.

it was an early morning ... carleigh and i woke up at 4:50 a.m.! being awake before all the seoulites was pretty rad and peaceful.

june, 2011.

being up and about before everyone else gave me a great opportunity to snap a photo of carleigh and her gimp leg. she was a good trooper during the tour, despite her truck-stricken leg.

june, 2011.

anyhow, korea is the only divided country in the world today, and the north and south territories are still technically at war. click here to watch vice's 3-part documentary about north korea to learn more.

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it's interesting ... we hear that north korea is full of propaganda, but this tour was pumping its participants full of propaganda, as well. i enjoyed it, don't get me wrong ... but i'm just sayin' ... we watched many films in which portrayed south korea as the innocent victim.

june, 2011.
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we had to follow a strict dress code, and we were escorted by u.s. military to the joint security area, the third tunnel, and a few other observatories where north korea is visible.

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it was emphasized not to point toward north korea, or do anything else stupid. [don't mind the fact that there were some drunk foreigners on the tour ... they got their beer taken away AT THE JSA!!!! such idiots.]

the following photos were taken at the JSA (Joint Security Area):

june, 2011.

at the JSA, there is a room that sits half on the north's territory and half on south's territory. this is the room we were allowed to walk in.

june, 2011.

see that brown building behind the teal one? that's north korea's Panmungak building.

we couldn't bring anything when visiting the JSA, so i had to leave my zoom lens in the bus. this is as close as i could get ... but can you see the north korean soldier looking through his binoculars?

june, 2011.

i am technically standing in north korea in this photo:

i felt really silly on the tour, smiling and posing and what not, in front of north korean territory. it's sick if you think about it; us tourists, privileged, sheltered, well-fed, and wealthy, smiling because we get to observe one of the most under-privileged countries in the world.

the JSA motto reads, "in front of them all" because north and south korean soldiers literally stand in front of one another every single day. at times, they are INCHES away from one another!

june, 2011.

the only thing that separates the two sides is a concrete slab.

the ROK soldiers are seen wearing sunglasses (so no emotion can be seen) and clenching their fists, while constantly looking at their enemy.

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okay, here is a different view of the north. this is taken from an observatory point.

june, 2011.

in these photos, you can see the north's GIGANTIC flag and flag pole. the flag pole is about 101 feet high, and weighs about 600 pounds! it is located in propaganda village. it was north korea's response to south korea building a flag pole that was about 330 feet taller than the north's.

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this is at dora observatory, but the actual observatory was under construction, so we didn't see much.

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myspace!

june, 2011.

oh, this guy is chuck.

june, 2011.

he rode on our bus and i just thought he was the cutest, sweetest old man. i asked him if i could take his photo, and he responded with, "why?" i said, "because i think you look cool." he just laughed sweetly and i asked him what his name is. chuck gave me his full name, shook my hand, and told me about places i should visit in korea. chuck is an army veteran, and he used to be stationed here in seoul.

i went to a baseball game on sunday with a few KNP folk.

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also, i've made two new korean friends. one is a dog named 하늘 (hahn-il, meaning "sky).

하늘 (

하늘's owner is named yong-gguu. (i know that pheonetically spelled translation is poor!)

june, 2011.

i visit this guy's computer shop, which is located in my neighborhood, equipped with dog treats. he speaks english pretty well, and i enjoy our little visits ... not quite sure if he feels the same, or if he just thinks i'm a silly mee-gook. ^^