Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The tragedy of communism.

(Authors Note: This posting is not full of funny stories or anything like it. It's about our visit to North Korea and the tragedy of communism. It's not like we left our tour deeply depressed. Instead, we felt more educated and aware about what is happening in the part of the world we live in currently. This tiny peninsula is far from insignificant.)

This last weekend, we went to visit Korea's DMZ.

The DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) separates North and South Korea and is the most heavily armed border in the world. The DMZ was set up after the cease-fire in 1953 at the end of the Korean War. There was never actually a peace treaty signed, so technically speaking, the north and south are still at war.

We were able to visit several different areas of the DMZ. It is something that is taken VERY seriously, being that it's not exactly a safe place to visit. We took a tour with the USO, which is an organization that supports military and expats abroad. You are not allowed to just go "see" the DMZ. In order to pass through all of the security, you have to actually be on a certified tour. Once we got to Camp Bonifas, after having our passports checked, we signed a paper during the briefing stating that were war to break out while we were on our tour, we would not hold the UN accountable.

Here is a picture of us standing on the edge of the South Korean border, facing North Korea. You can see the North Korean guard in the far back and the South Korean guards just behind us. This part of the DMZ is where all of the joint meetings between the North, South, and the UN occur.

This is a picture of us straddling the border between the North and South, while in the conference meeting room.

Standing with the South Korean guard.

This picture is taken from another location along the DMZ. While standing there, we could see the "jamming" tower, which jams all radio, tv, phone, cable, and Internet signals from South Korea and other locations that could possibly enter the country. For those of you who don't know, North Koreans have no contact with the outside world. Their only news comes from their own government. Their Internet comes from their government. They have no idea what is going on with the outside world. It is an absolute tragedy, especially because it allows the government to brainwash the people.

These are a couple of thoughts/facts we learned about on our trip:
-South Korea has the tenth strongest economy in the world. This is especially interesting when you compare their economy with North Korea's economy. The average factory worker in North Korea makes $2.50 every month.
-The Bridge of No Return is named this for good reason. At the end of the Korean War, soldiers were given the choice of where they would like to live. However, once they crossed that bridge, they would not be allowed to go back. This is still true today as it is illegal for a North Korean to leave their country and immigrate to another country. They are allowed to leave the country, but if they do not return, the government can look for them and arrest them for trying to escape.
-One more interesting piece of information that you may not know is that the current leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Il, is dying or possibly already dead. If there is going to be a revolution in North Korea, the time is coming soon. Some South Koreans feel a deep compassion for their North Korean families are working hard to simply stay alive. Many South Koreans are taking serious measures to try to alert the North Korean people about their dying leader, encouraging them that this is the time for a revolution. If you are interested in reading more, check this out on the BBC website.

The Bridge of No Return

Also, you can check out the video Keith made with various segments from the day on the right hand side, if you are interested.

Thank you for reading and caring about these current global issues.
Posted by Megan and Keith at 5:10 PM |  


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