Lately, there has been a lot of talk about North Korea. There was the movie “The Interview” that sparked a little bit of international tension. North Korea was then blamed for responding with a huge infiltration of Sony and responded with the usual mass destruction threats. They recently gotta a firm talking to from China for a maniac from NK that got into the country and killed four Chinese citizens. ANDDDD Kim Jong Un’s sister just got married!! Congrats Kim Yo Jong.
We talked a little about some Americans that have visited North Korea in the past and received a long stay in prison. All of the recent talk about North Korea has inspired me to talk about my own personal visit to the border of Hermit Kingdom.
My visit to the DMZ was very educational. I was on the South Korean side of course. If you happen to be in Korean, I HIGHLY recommend it. You are escorted through a military base to get there. Once you are at the staging area you are given a military briefing on how ridiculously dangerous it is and why. Then you have to read and sign a release form that states something like “the US Army is not responsible for your death or bodily harm while you at the actual DMZ”. This is necessary since every now and then someone is shot. They want you to know the danger is REAL.
My trip to the DMZ showed me how petty and completely irrational nations can be. They actually had a “flagpole” war. The south built a flag next to the boarder that the North saw, so they responded be building The Panmunjom flagpole, a 160 meter tower which is the fourth largest flag pole in the world as of 2015.
They built this flagpole in a town they built called Kijŏngdong. Kijŏngdong can clear fit 200 plus families but is clearly empty and has been for many years.
Aside from all of the horrible deaths from boarder skirmishes that have happened over the decades, the most alarming thing that I saw and the DMZ was the disparity between North and South. You don’t need binoculars to see that the North has very little infrastructure. From looking, the North does not even look like a developing country. It is like a baron waste land with the decrepit, vacant town Kijŏngdong (and it huge flag) in the middle of nowhere while the South looks like New York or Tokyo. If you look at the North and South at night you see that North has very little lighting in Pyongyang with the South is lit up like a galaxy.
As of 2015, there are about 25 million people living in the DPRK. So there are are 25 million sides of North Korea and it is not all bad.
Unfortunately, the politics there have made an unprecedented level of suffering.