DMZ Tour Part 4: Dorasan Station – “Next Train To Pyongyang, Please!”
With the sun beating down to hide a false temperature in the South Korean snow, we were heading on the road to Pyongyang, North Korea, just near Dorasan Station. An unfamiliar eerie-ness accompanied the trip to Dorasan, from Paju.
The significance of Dorasan Station is that it’s in South Korea, but the track connects to North Korea, though the trainline between South and North is never used. This station’s train lines, therefore are used only for those who work or visit the station and head south from it. You cannot get a train north out of Dorasan Station, at least not at the moment.
The station stands alone, almost out of place in the middle of the Korean countryside.
You can buy a ticket to view the platforms at Dorasan Station and get your photo waiting for the 11.24 to Pyongyang, so that’s exactly what we did.
There are understandably loads of South Korean guards there, and they are normally happy to have their photo taken with you, Panny and I got these taken outside the main station entrance.
Information boards outside Dorasan Station, with a detailed map of the train line, which crosses the Imjin River. The photo has our tour guide in it, you can tell from her posture how cold it was!
Once inside the station, its so modern and clean. Mind you, it’s rarely used!
Panny and I pose by one of the South Korean guards. The entrance behind leads through to the platforms and you’ll need a valid train ticket.
So we each bought a one way ticket to Pyongyang. The only catch was that the train will never actually leave…a nice wee keepsake.
So we went through to the platforms through these doors. The notice above details the fact that the train would (if ever re-opened) connect the south tip of South Korea, to, well Pyongyang, Ulan Bator, Paris, Edinburgh. It would act as a station on the Trans-Korean line, and later on the Trans-Siberian and could in theory get you a train to Edinburgh, with a few changes no doubt and a fair bit of walking betweens stations and platforms. I got the feeling that the train line that runs through to North Korea will never actually be re-opened, though trains did run north bound there in 2007 – 2008 for freight across the border to Kaesong. Nowadays the trains only run southbound to Imjingang Station and beyond.
The train line to Pyongyang, North Korea – heading north across the divide.
The train line to Seoul, South Korea – heading south within the same country.
Between the divide – standing on the platform at Dorasan Station, just 205 kilometres by train from Pyongyang.
Waiting for the 11.24 to Pyongyang…
Christmas Eve express to Pyongyang please! Panny and I wait for the train that never arrives, along with about 20 other keen tourists.
It is also OK to fly the Northern Ireland flag there, one of the closest photos of it to the border (until of course the time I backpacked in North Korea).
Waiting with Panny on the platform by the sign at Dorasan.
Platform entrance looking back into the station at Dorasan.
This was the first of three souvenir shops on the day – at Dorasan Station there were a host of souvenirs, I asked in vein for a North Korean beer, but picked up a few other keepsakes.
I got my passport stamped at Dorasan – used my old British Passport to do this, as it’s just for show rather than any official purpose.
I was happy with my DMZ T-shirt which I bought at Dorasan Station.
The lonely road to Pyongyang, again, not accessible, but who knows one day…
Outside Dorasan Station. This contains a list of all those who died in the Korean War, if I remember correctly.
The snow and sun meet on Christmas Eve, 2011 at Dorasan Station, South Korea.
It was another excellent part of the DMZ Tour, and we got back on the bus to take a trip to Imjingak. Maybe sometime the train line to North Korea will be re-opened and we can crack open a tin of North Korean beer as two world’s meet in harmony.
Nationalities Met – South Korean
Transport Used – Bus (no trains going – sorry)
Train details of the line that passes through Dorasan, showing clearly that the next station up, is in fact Panmun Station in NorthKorea:
INSIDE DORASAN STATION WAITING FOR THE PYONGYANG TRAIN:
WAITING ON THE PLATFORM FOR THE TRAIN TO PYONGYANG:
Some Information on Dorasan Station:
Dorasan Station is a railroad station situated on the Gyeongui Line, which once connected North and South Korea and has now been restored. For several years the northernmost stop on the line was Dorasan Station, which is served by Tonggeun commuter trains. On December 11, 2007, freight trains began traveling north past Dorasan Station into North Korea, taking materials to the Kaesong Industrial Region, and returning with finished goods. It was scheduled to make one 16-kilometer (9.9 mi) trip every weekday. However, on December 1, 2008, the North Korean government closed the border crossing, after accusing South Korea of a confrontational policy.This coincided with the South Korean legislative election, 2008, and a change to a more conservative government. Plans to begin regular passenger service across the Imjin River to North Korea have yet to be finalized. However, a tourist visit in January 2010 showed clearly that the station was completely shut to all train travel, and that the station was only open for tourists.