Apart from the fact that “Paju” is a city of apparently 375,000, I sensed it’s real purpose could be as a northern protection point for Seoul in case of any attempted invasion or attack from North Korea. However, the city itself appears to be rather “fake”, and a lot of this is owed to the fact that we were now inside the DMZ, having crossed the Imjin River.
Realities and reasons for “Paju’s” existence aside, we were warped straight out of the city and away from it’s inhabitants to a custom built tourist park, on the site of where the Third Infiltration Tunnel was found.
We get out of the bus at a large car park. There are loads of other buses and cars there. It’s Christmas Eve. It’s cold, it’s snowing and this is the first stop on the DMZ Tour. There are a fair few tourists about.
Just prior to arrival at Paju, we had our passports checked to enter the DMZ. This took place on the bus – no stamps, just a routine check. During this time no photos or videos could be taken.
So for the travelling Northern Irishman, what happened at Paju?
Well there’s the time for typical touristy type photos in the snow…
There’s the DMZ sign. Panny and I taking turns for photos.
Then a photo of us both. It stands for De-Militarised Zone for those who don’t know.
Then a Northern Ireland flag within the DMZ photo. A little bit more dodgy probably than the Northern Ireland – Republic of Ireland border at Newry.
There’s a barbed wire fence with possible mines behind it. This is in a garden behind the main tourist centre, and close to the entrance to The Third Tunnel. You can clearly see the mines marked.
There’s time for a nice couple photo in the snow. The land north of us is all DMZ and of course North Korea lies just beyond us. I estimate this is about 200 metres south of the border, given that we walked into the Third Tunnel, and were right up to where the actual border would be. Paju itself though, is about 4 kilometres from North Korea. It all got a bit confusing as to where the border actually was as we were bussed about a lot, things became most clear later on at Panmunjom.
Sporting the Northern Ireland shirt at Paju. There was a dress code on the day, including “no jeans” and “no shorts”. I just wore this for show really, it was a bit cold to be walking round in it all day.
Panny enjoys the snow at Paju. Reminders of Antarctica actually came back at points during the DMZ Tour, probably due to attire and weather.
There’s a lot of random things at the centre in Paju apart from The Third Tunnel (I cover that part of the tour separately).
This map shows the area that Paju is in, and the main touristy parts near the border, of which we would visit quite a lot on the day. There are actually a lot of other tours that go to the Dora Observatory and Odusan Unification Observatory as well as Bluff (an area of stone pillars by the Injim River).
There are a lot of random buildings at Paju.
It was at Paju that we did the Monorail into The Third Tunnel, I’ve put that in the DMZ Tour Part 3.
The main part of the trip to Paju was the museum, documentary and information, all housed in a small building. After an interesting 20 minute documentary, we walked around the museum.
There was a lot of information to take in.
Weaponry on display, kind of ironic to see a gun in a “demilitarised zone”, but it was out of use.
Videos, photos, pictures, displays and information boards made this an excellent museum, could have spent much more time there.
They have a replica model of Panmunjom there which really had us excited, the replica shows the exact border line between North and South Korea, and later we would know exactly where we crossed the border, in the blue hut in Panmunjom.
Every time I travel, my brain is simply overloaded with way too much information, and this one day was no exception. It gets to the point, where I only really read the stuff I think I’ll be interested in, rather than try and read everything.
Timeline. I always try to read 1980 and get some perspective on other countries around the time of my birth.
Digging a tunnel…
Another model shows the DMZ and the border.
Relaxing at a fake security fence with South Korean security guards.
This map of the Gyeongui Line is a map of the train line linking South to North Korea, which is not in use across the border. Later on we had an exciting visit to Dorasan Station, which is the last South Korean station before Panmun in North Korea.
A panorama looking into North Korea from an observatory point in South Korea.
Essential Christmas tree snow photos wearing my Santa hat.
The DMZ Museum at Paju.
Random FIFA World Cup football in the lobby near the toilets. Reminders of 2002 when South Korea (with Japan) hosted the World Cup.
A few more shots of the area we stopped at in Paju.
These fake friendly looking South Korean soldiers gave another random opportunity for my well travelled Northern Ireland flag.
And finally these wooden pillars confused me and looked out of place. Paju had been fun and educational, Panny and I were the last two to get back on the bus, where a visit to Dorasan Station was up next (covered in Part 4, as Part 3 is The Third Tunnel, also at Paju).
Nationalities Met – South Korean, Swedish, Canadian
Sights – Trees, Mines, Museum, Third Tunnel, Random Monuments
Key Song –
(only because of the name…)
David Guetta ft. Mart Paju – Don’t Give Up (NEW SONG 2012)
My Videos –
ARRIVAL AT PAJU:
CHILLING AT PAJU ON CHRISTMAS EVE:
PAJU DMZ MUSEUM PART 1:
PAJU DMZ MUSEUM PART 2:
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