DMZ Tour Part 9: Flag at Half Mast, North Korea

DMZ Tour Part 9: Flag at Half Mast, North Korea


Having just stepped across the border into North Korea as casual as you like, it was time for a rare sight. Something that you won’t see often in your lifetime. The third highest national flag on a single flag pole in the world, FLYING HALF MAST. The reason? Kim Jong Il had just died. Panny and I were lucky to get this close to the flag and a glimpse of the flag which is normally right at the top of the pole. The North Korean flag here at half mast. We were still inside the DMZ at this point and were looking directly into North Korea. This was just after our visit to the blue huts at Panmunjom.

Indeed this flag is allegedly the world’s third highest single flag pole, and sits just over the border into North Korea. It is clearly visible from the South and is of course normally hoisted higher, as the below photo shows, taken before Kim Jong Il died…


In this report, the above 2 photos were NOT taken by me at the North Korea border. This is what the flag normally looks like, at full mast, higher up.

The North Korea flag. This looks like a sneaky photo through the hedges and bushes, but you’re allowed to take photos here. Just a bit arty or a bad shot!

One I took of the North Korea flag. The flag itself is within the 4 kilometre DMZ, 2 kilometres of which are in North Korea, the other 2 kilometres are in South Korea. This flag towers over the village of Kijong-dong, the only North Korean village inside the DMZ. Kijong-dong is known to the North Koreans as “peace village”, while the rest of the world like to call it “Propaganda Village”. Apparently nobody lives there and it’s all “a big fake”.

In the field beside the North Korea flag, is the border and the South Korea flag.

Here the South Korea flag flies at a slightly lower altitude from the North Korea one.


An excellent view into North Korea. Most of these photos are taken from the bus. In fact Panny and I were lucky that we were sitting on that side, as everything to our right out Panny’s window was in North Korea. Snow covered the nearby fields, trees stretched into the distance and beyond that (except for the massive North Korea flag) lies mountains and the real North Korea. The nearest real North Korean city to the border is Kaesong. That is without counting the fake, uninhabited “Propaganda Village” known as Kijongdong. And of course without also counting the border straddling DMZ village of Panmunjom (a “village” which is in theory in both countries).

A view into the mountains of North Korea. This report and these photos may actually seem pretty boring. But when you consider how closed a door North Korea really is, to me it’s interesting, almost like “this is all we could get a photo of”.

Now this photo is a bit more interesting, if ruthless and brutal. But this monument sadly marks the spot of the axe murders, where North Korean Soldiers murdered 2 US Soldiers here in 1976, right inside the DMZ. They were murdered using an axe, after a dispute over a tree. Following this incident, the actual border was tweaked slightly and this monument was set up. There may be a little confusion over to the event itself, and of course wikipedia is never the most accurate source, but from what we read, the US claim they were innocent and the North Koreans attacked them. The North Koreans claimed they were attacked by the Americans. Some details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axe_murder_incident

This area, covered in snow when we were there is a Bridge. It is often dubbed The Bridge of No Return. This is right next to where the poplar tree stood. The one which caused the dispute which led to the 1976 killings.

The area of North Korea we saw was basically no man’s land.

A South Korean lampost and no man’s land looking into North Korea.

You can see some small buildings in the distance. To be honest this is probably the best photo I took to date of North Korea.

North Korea through the trees.

The snow had cleared on this part of the DMZ. This is also North Korea.

Panny Yu and North Korea behind her.

The monument again.

Me and the monument plus in behind in the distance is North Korea. In fact the only photo I have of me with North Korea behind me, except those taken in the MAC Building hut when we were actually standing across the border.

Panny enjoys the scenery, to be honest it was beautiful countryside. Some nature and geology experts reckon that the DMZ has some awesome wildlife and if it ever opens up, and the countries unite, this would be a wonderful place to go travelling. There may even be animals there that are in no other parts of the world.

Looking down onto The Bridge of No Return. If you walk that way, you’re in North Korea. And you ain’t coming back. If you walk towards us, you’ve escaped from North Korea and may not ever want to go back. I took great amusement in the fact that there were a lot of footsteps on the left, but NONE on the right. Those had walked away, really hadn’t returned!

OK this photo of me also has a bit of North Korea in it, but it’s not a great snap.

You can see the North Korea flag flying here, but the field in front there is in South Korea.

Again the flag flies, but at half mast.

Our last glimpse of the flag and of North Korea, as everything from now on would be heading south. The tour was coming to an appropriate end as we left the flag flying behind us.

Our bus passed the South Korea flag and we were safely out of the area known as Panmunjom.

Panny and I relaxing on the bus just after our last glimpse of North Korea and as our bus left Panmunjom. On our return to the JSA, we had to hand in our UNCMAC Guest badges.

View from the bus on the way back to the JSA. 95 % sure this is South Korea!

Nice South Korea flag flying with the fields and sun shining on the bus window.

Leaving the DMZ behind, this is part 9 of the tour, but there will be a few more just to round things up.

Where – At Panmunjom right on the border between North Korea and South Korea

Main Sights – The Bridge of No Return, The Massive North Korean Flag, Fields of North Korea, The Monument to Mark The Axe Murder

Some information here –


Key Songs –

STIFF LITTLE FINGERS – FLY THE FLAG:

BILLY JOEL – NO MAN’S LAND:

PULP – THE TREES:

SIMON AND GARFUNKEL – BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER:


My Videos –

AT PANMUNJOM ON THE BUS JOURNEY LOOKING INTO NORTH KOREA FROM SOUTH KOREA:

STARING AT NORTH KOREA AND IT’S BIG FLAG FROM THE BUS:

IN SOUTH KOREA AT PANMUNJOM JUST A FEW YARDS SOUTH OF THE BORDER:

PASSPORT CHECK ON THE DMZ TOUR:



Other People’s Videos –

THE BRIDGE OF NO RETURN:

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