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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in dmz
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A unique living relic of the Cold War era, Panmunjeom is a small village that happened to lie at the final battle front of the Korean War. The truce that ended hostilities was signed here in 1953, but as peace was never agreed to, the two sides are still officially at war over fifty years later and a million men stand guard in the singularly inappropriately named Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). While there are no troops in the zone itself, both sides of the 4-kilometer strip of land separating the Koreas are the most heavily armed in the world: Pillboxes, barbed wire and tank stoppers line the entire border and stretch back halfway to Seoul in the South and Pyongyang in the North.
At the center of Panmunjeom is the Joint Security Area (JSA), an 800 sq.m. patch of land jointly policed by the South and North, where soldiers glare at each other across the border and the two sides occasionally meet for discussions (or gunshots).
From the South
Visits to Panmunjeom from the South Korean side must be arranged in advance as part of an organized tour, although for foreigners three days notice usually suffices. Citizens of China and South Korea will need to make arrangements well in advance (at least two months), while citizens of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, DPRK, Sudan, Syria, Libya cannot participate.
From the North
To visit from the DPRK side is relatively straightforward if it is previously specified as part of your tour (and you've managed to get into the country in the first place).
From the South, travel within the DMZ is possible only in UN vehicles, and you'll be transferred to a UN bus at Camp Bonifas.
From the North, you will reboard your tour bus at the entrance to the DMZ, accompanied by a member of the Korean People's Army (KPA).
When booking your tour, be sure to clarify what exactly will be offered. The primary points of interest for most visitors from the south are the Joint Security Area and the Third Tunnel, but not all tour companies have clearance to visit these and you'll have to pay a small premium for those that do.
From the North you will be able to visit the original site of the Panmunjeom village and the Peace Museum that was originally built for and houses original copies of the 1953 armistice. From there it is a short drive to the JSA.
DMZ and JSA
Outside the DMZ
On the South Korean side, sites outside the DMZ can be visited more cheaply and with less hassle.
All tourist facilities for foreigners in the DPRK include a gift shop, and the gateway to the DMZ is no exception. Just inside the concrete wall you can purchase Korean art and amongst other things, of course, endless amounts of literature on the Great Leader Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il.
Somewhat incongruously, in South Korea Camp Bonifas's former monastery building has been turned into a gift shop retailing DMZ-related paraphernalia, including chunks of rusty barbed wire from the original demarcation line (W25,000).
The canteen in Camp Bonifas is no longer open to the civilian visitors, so most tours now head to eat elsewhere. There is no food available for purchase on the Northern side and the closest available facilities are in Kaesong.
Consumption of alcohol in the DMZ is prohibited.
Room and board at Camp Bonifas is restricted to active duty soldiers in the United States Armed Forces. However, retired servicemen who have received the Medal Of Honor might be able to stay on a "space available" basis.
From the South, a strict dress code applies for all visitors, particularly in the JSA: for men, collared shirts and long trousers are mandatory, while T-shirts, sleeveless shirts, short skirts and such are out. The purpose is twofold: one to make sure you don't end up on a North Korean propaganda poster, and the other to to make sure you can run if somebody starts shooting.
Within the DMZ, photography outside designated points is not permitted. Long lenses are allowed, but tripods are not. You must stay together with the group and follow the tour leader's instructions at all times.
From the North, photography is permitted unrestricted at the JSA and the Peace Museum. Elswhere you will have to ask permission.
From the South, entry into the JSA/DMZ requires signing a voucher where you agree to accept responsibility for "injury or death as a direct result of enemy action". Remember: it may be in a state of suspended animation, but both sides have itchy trigger fingers and it's still a war zone.
Unless you're planning to risk your life in an attempt to defect, this is not a good place to attempt to cross the border.