Imjingak 임진각관광지, Paju (South Korea)

Imjingak
Imjingak

The DMZ is a strip of land between North Korea and South Korea. It was created through an agreement between North Korea, China and the United Nations in 1953, and spans 250 km long, and about 4 km wide with 2 km on each side of the militarized line. There are two parts to the DMZ zone area – unrestricted and highly restricted (requires the official DMZ tours).

Located within this zone is the Imjingak Resort, within Paju City. It was built with hope that unification would someday be possible between North and South Korea, with tributes and mementos throughout the resort. Our local fried, KJ, was the host for the day and he brought us to Imjingak as the first stop of the day. It was about a 1-2 hours care ride from Seoul. Along the way, we passed by Ilsan New Town, which is built near a river and looked so much like a coastal town that we thought the river was the sea! 😅

Another interesting takeaway from the car ride: as the road to Paju is part of the DMZ, there are many lookout points and advertisements for people to join the army. South Koreans really take looking good to the next level – the billboard for army advertisement looked like a trailer for an upcoming movie, until KJ informed us that it was an advertisement to join the army. 😂😂

If you prefer a more comprehensive DMZ tour, or simply a more convenient mode of transportation, than visiting via the local tours would be the best option. You can book your DMZ Tour here.


Imjingak is one of the places where authentic North Korean food and souvenirs are being sold as well. C was captivated by the retro looking stalls and items that she bought some handmade pumpkin candy (it was quite nice and malty). 

Imjingak
The shops selling North Korean wares
Imjingak
Retro looking toys
Imjingak
It's like a step back in time.

On the way to the museum, we heard the screams a group of people seated on a Viking ride. It was quite odd seeing a mini theme park, Pyeong Hwa Land, amidst all the solidarity and solemnness of what Imjingak is supposed to represent. But I guess you can take it as, in spite of the difficulties in life we ought to not forget to have fun and relax from time to time. 


Paju Jangdansoyean Museum 

Paju Jangdansoyean Museum
Paju Jangdansoyean Museum
Paju Jangdansoyean Museum
The huge vats of ginseng at the entrance!

Our first stop was actually the museum which housed huge jars of ginseng at the entrance. The history of food, in particular, soybean, was displayed from its life cycle, different varieties and (sometimes ingenious) usage throughout history. Not everything was in English. In fact, only the headings were translated. Fortunately we had someone who was a native speaker and attempted his best to translate for us. 

Paju Jangdansoyean Museum
A little introduction and history of the soybean festival
Paju Jangdansoyean Museum
The various stages in the life cycle of the humble soybean
Paju Jangdansoyean Museum
The different products  that are made from soybeans
Paju Jangdansoyean Museum
History of tofu


Mangbaedan Altar and other monuments

Mangbaedan Altar
Mangbaedan Altar

The Mangbaedan Altar, is a monument where memorials are held here during Lunar New Year and Chuseok. Millions of Koreans will come to pray for their ancestors and families in North area and for reunification.

Mangbaedan Altar
A monument of the ware

Situation Map
A peace pavillion


Steam Locomotive and Bridge of Freedom 

Here, we saw the remains of a steam locomotive that had weathered over 1000 bullets and bombings during the Korean War.

Steam Locomotive
The steam locomotive
Steam Locomotive
The impressions left behind by the bullets and bombings
Nearby there is a small souvenir shop, where you can pick up some DMZ related souvenirs. It is here that the Bridge of Freedom resides next to the souvenir shop, a bridge encompassing the hopes of a reunification of families on opposite ends.

Imjingak 임진각관광지, Paju (South Korea)
You walk the bridge to a certain point, but there is a fee.
The Bridge of Freedom was a former railroad bridge which was used by repatriated POWs/soldiers returning from the north. Visitors are allowed to cross the bridge to a certain point, but you would have to pay a fee to do so.

Bridge of Freedom
Tributes, prayers and wishes, in the form of streamers and ribbons adorn the fence
Bridge of Freedom
Ribbons with wishes
Bridge of Freedom
The hope for reunification by families can be seen through the streamers and ribbons adorning the fence


Imjingak Observatory 

Our final stop was the top of the Imjingak Observatory, where one can have an elevated view of the surrounding area. A restaurant, eateries and some shopping are also available within the observatory building.

Imjingak Observatory
Imjingak Observatory
It was certainly a surreal sight as we could vaguely see North Korea in the distance while technically being in South Korea; the same yet different. For those who are interested to tour the DMZ, you can book your DMZ Tour here.

Imjingak Observatory
Binoculars for a closer view
Imjingak Observatory
The from a corner of the observatory deck
Imjingak Observatory
Another view from another corner



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When travel collides with a byte, a unit of information made up of bits, TravelBytez is formed: snippets of ramblings on travel, food, shopping, living and anything else that comes to mind.

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