DMZ Tour Part 5: Imjingak

DMZ Tour Part 5: Imjingak

After Dorasan Station, it was time to visit an area known as Imjingak, a settlement right by “Freedom Bridge”, a bridge which links North Korea to South Korea (basically), but is not in use. We crossed the Imjin river on our tour bus and ended up at Imjingak, which to me seemed like a touristy built shopping mall in a car park with some memorials. It’s little more than that, indeed even Wikipedia cites Imjingak as simply a “park”. But on Christmas Eve, this was a pretty nice place to stop.
Whatever Imjingak is, the views were exceptional, and I got the chance to buy some “authentic” North Korean souvenirs there. This was the second of 3 commercial points on the day – the first was at Dorasan Station, the last would be inside the JSA. For the collector of memorabilia and random things, this trip is excellent.
The shop at Imjingak sold North Korean food and drink, including a well packaged Blueberry Wine. Neil had told me that North Korean beer was available on the tour, but I failed to find any, and so I decided to opt for the bottle of North Korean Blueberry wine. Even if I had found beer later, I would have just bought it as well!
I was now in possession of North Korean alcohol – the sweet Blueberry Wine and would have a toast later tonight with it at a house party.
Panny and I overlook Freedom Bridge, from the top of the observatory at Imjingak.

One of the memorial gardens and monuments at Imjingak, viewed from the top of the Observatory.

Flags of the nations, looking south from the top of the Observatory at Imjingak – no North Korea flag flies here.

A white winter wonderland – fields of snow meet the Christmas Eve sun at Imjingak. The fact it was Christmas Eve had almost passed me by.
The views looking out over Freedom Bridge were immense. A phenomenal landscape.

Looking down again on the flags of the United Nations display at Imjingak, as usual I was on hand with my Northern Ireland flag.
Korean War Memorial at Imjingak.
A bit of reading material.

On The Road to Freedom! This part of the bridge is accessible and you can walk up to a memorial, from which point the bridge is closed forever. It is not the only bridge that crosses the Imjin river though. The other one is called Liberty Bridge.

Panny on Freedom Bridge.
The end of the line. Up to the point where the bridge is closed off. Two South Korean flags fly next to a UN one – a bit sad not to see a North Korea and South Korea flag side by side here – but remember we’re still in South Korea, and a few kilometres south of the border at this point.

The views of the car park at Imjingak. Not normally anything exciting, but I just loved the weather and the view!
Another Korean War tribute containing flags.

Korean War Memorial.

Another view through trees of Freedom Bridge.

Tributes on the bridge. We weren’t actually on a guided tour, we were given our own time and “freedom” to do as we pleased, though I did wonder who or what the tributes were for (I assumed those South Koreans who died in the Korean war), who put them there, whether or not anyone can put a tribute there and when they were put there.

The main building at Imjingak, the top of which is the observatory.

Again the observatory and main building at Imjingak. I took this photograph from Freedom Bridge.

A wee souvenir kiosk at the entrance to Freedom Bridge.

The kiosk worker looked slightly militant. Nice wee photo opportunity as I saw the chance to buy some North Korean souvenirs.

I went for a set of North Korean banknotes, which cost around 10 pounds or so. In the week and wake of Kim Jong Il’s death it was a fitting thing to buy, his face appears on these notes and was a great wee souvenir to have. As a youth I collected banknotes, coins and stamps and I find it fascinating. The more I travel, the more I want to keep and buy souvenirs. Part of the travelling experience in my opinion is keepsakes such as these.

Me and the kiosk worker after buying my banknotes. It felt so weird paying him in South Korean Won to be given back North Korean Won! Very odd. A real “across the divide” moment. Of course the intention would never be to spend them…

Panny and I by another memorial in the pretty gardens at Imjingak.

Another couple of photos of us by the prayers, notes and tributes at Freedom Bridge.

Another nice picture from the top of the observatory. You can tell we were snap happy at delightful Imjingak.
As this tour was full of tourists, a lot of the places are tacky, the amount of random DMZ moments was ridiculous, still, we didn’t hesitate to get another photo by another DMZ sign. We won’t be here again, so why not…

We had to get onto a different bus at Imjingak, as we were part of the Panmunjom tour, while some others maybe booked a shorter half day tour, or just Imjingak, Third Tunnel and Paju. No way were Panny and I going to miss the chance to visit Panmunjom, the JSA and step across the border into North Korea. Which was only a couple of hours away…

I gave Panny one of her Christmas presents at Imjingak – was doing a present a day, for 14 days.

On the bus and leaving Imjingak – next stop would be for lunch somewhere near the border.

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