[Short] Day Four

Since day four was one of our only totally open days, we decided to use it for the DMZ tour. We’d heard that it’s a can’t-miss, and set out with really high expectations. We probably should have taken the USO-run tour, but instead we chose Grace tours.

They took us to several stops, including the Freedom Bridge, the Third Tunnel of Aggression (a tunnel dug under the DMZ by North Korea), Mt. Dorason observatory (where you can look out over the DMZ), and Dorasan Station (an new station for when passenger trains…someday, hopefully…resume between North and South Korea).

At the Freedom Bridge:

Third Tunnel of Aggression museum:

View of the DMZ from Mt. Dorasan (those are opposing villages, the North Korean village on the left and the South Korean village on the right):

Dorasan Station:

To be honest, even though we appreciated the chance to look out over the DMZ, the tour was not worth the large amount of time it took. It was also a very odd experience, where you felt like the perspectives shown to you (in mandatory movies, for example) were questionable, and the fear factor was being dialed up for tourist benefit. If we were to have that time back, I think we would have either gone on the Panmunjeom tour by the USO, or to the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul (which also explores the division of North and South).

When we were bused back to Seoul, the tour stopped at a mandatory amethyst factory tour (with mandatory time spent in a pricey amethyst showroom). We’d reached our limit of mandatory this-or-that, so we booked it out of there. It was a great chance to see a new part of Seoul…Yeouido, Seoul’s Manhattan-like island of business and commerce.

We walked through Yeouido Park, through an area of skyscrapers, and found a metro stop that took us to (after a stop at Dunkin’ donuts) our afternoon destination…Jangampyeong Antiques Market, in northeastern Seoul.

We thought we’d be able to find an antique box to bring back for K, but after several inquiries about prices we realized Korean antiques were way out of our budget. It was great to look through the market buildings, though, and we went into some very unique stores. Some very crowded, unique stores.

After Janampyeong, we went west and north to E-Mart, kind of like our Targets or K-Marts, but without the sprawling space and parking lots. This one was three stories, and had just about everything you’d expect at a discount store…including great people watching. My favorite sight was on the grocery level…the kimchi counter!

It was getting late, so we headed out for dinner in Myeong-dong, a hip little shopping and fashion district in Seoul:

After a frustrating wild goose chase (thanks, 2006 Lonely Planet guide), we discovered the restaurant we wanted had gone out of business. We wandered the streets without much direction, then settled at a restaurant that cooked up spicy dak (chicken) galbi right at your table. Spicy, yummy, goodness.

That was it! The next day we’d visit K at her foster family’s home.

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~ by themagpiesnest on June 24, 2008.

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