The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula; it was established at the end of the Korean
War to serve as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ is a de facto border barrier that cuts the Korean
Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel north on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and
the east end lying north of it. It is 160 miles long,
Inside the DMZ, near the western coast of the peninsula, Panmunjom is the home of the Joint Security Area (JSA). There are
several buildings on both the north and the south side of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), and there have been some built on
top of it. The JSA is the location where all negotiations since 1953 have been held. The MDL goes through the conference rooms
and down the middle of the conference tables where the North Koreans and the United Nations Command (primarily South Koreans
and Americans) meet face to face.
Below is the building where the Armistice agreement was negotiated.
Jackie sits at the table on the chair where negotiators from the United Nations sat to negotiate the armistice agreement.
This is the room where the armistice agreement was signed. The United States insisted on a United Nations flag (closest table) and
the DPRK sat at the far table with their flag. This was only an armistice agreement so technically the war never ended.
After visiting these buildings, we proceeded to the Joint Security Area.
The military demarcation line runs right down through the center of the blue buildings. Only soldiers from the DPRK are visible.
Ironically, you will get closer and a much better view of the demarcation line if you visit the DMZ from the north.
Ironically, most of the DMZ is too dangerous for human habitation. This natural isolation along the 160 mi length of the DMZ has
created an involuntary park which is now recognized as one of the most well-preserved areas of temperate habitat in the world.
The Pyongyang Metro is one of the deepest metros in the world, with the track approximately 360 feet deep underground, the
Pyongyang metro also doubles as a bomb shelter. During rush hour, the trains can operate at a minimum interval of 2 minutes.
The Pyongyang Metro is one of the cheapest in the world to ride, at only 5 KP₩ (about $0.01 USD) per ticket.
Below, Jackie riding the escalator down with Kim.
|The Korean Demilitarized Zone
the Pyongyang Metro
Construction of the metro network started in 1965, and stations were opened between 1969 and 1972 by President Kim Il-sung.
The network is completely underground. The design of the network was based on metro networks in other communist countries, in
particular the Moscow Metro. Another common feature is the Socialist realist art that can be found in the stations such as murals
and statues. Staff of the Metro have a military-style uniform that is specific to these workers. Each Metro station has a free toilet for
use by patrons. Stations also broadcast programs from state radio.
|Our guides Kim Kwang Hun and Pak Chung Il on subway car holding camera gear for us.
We were in the DPRK the week of the 70th Anniversary of the Labor Party. We left the subway just as a hoard of students
descended into the station from their practice for the parade. Just in time! The subway carries up to 700,000 passengers a day in a
city of 3,000,000.
Foreign tourists used to be allowed to travel only between Puhŭng Station and Yŏngwang Station. This gave rise to a conspiracy
theory that the metro was purely for show. It was claimed that it only consisted of two stops and that the passengers were actors.
Since 2010 tourists have been allowed to ride the metro at six stations and on our trip we stopped at three stations and rode
through six stations. Ironically, the myth that the metro only exists for show is still widely believed in the west.
|These are the highest escalators that we have ever used.
|Subway worker in uniform.