Korea – DMZ

When trouble’s a-brewing on the Korean peninsula, who you gonna call?

Ghostbusters – NOT!

No guys, you gonna call MB and daughter MB2 to take a trip, talk some Irish sense to the local Korean lads and lassies, and calm the whole situation right down.

So, around mid-May this year, with threats of nuclear annihilation and scorched earth very much in the news, MB and MB2 arrived under cover of Seoul evening twilight from the Middle East and Ireland respectively, made a quick let’s-sort-this-shit-out plan, jumped on a bus, and headed right into the heart of the DMZ between North and South.

It’s hardly a coincidence, that in recent months, the peninsula has been a whole lot quieter, with Mr & Mrs Kim now far more focused on preparing kimchi dishes and the finer things of Korean life more generally.

Yes Siree, peace is now restored and you didn’t read one single word of MB and MB2’s involvement in the international news. But that’s how MB and MB2 like to work. Under the radar. Quietly. Without fuss. Or American accents. The Irish way!

The demilitarized zone (DMZ) between north and south Korea is approximately 250 km long and 4 km wide. It’s got to be the most inaccurately named region on the entire planet. There are approx 1M land mines just outside the fence that MB and MB2 were mere meters from, not to mention vast and multiple other types of military technology on either side of the border. Thousands of US troops augment the native army of the South, and the North has a 1M member army to throw into battle should they ever decide to do so.

There have been numerous incidents and deaths within and along the DMZ since it was established under the armistice/peace agreement of 1953, as defectors have tried to get south, and various interactions between North and South have gone pear-shaped for one reason or another. Read HERE for further info.

The story of the secret tunnels under the DMZ is fascinating.

To date, four tunnels excavated by the North Koreans (for future surprise attacks on the South) have been discovered, but it’s estimated that more than 20 others remain undiscovered. MB and MB2 went into Tunnel Nr 3 (as it’s called) to take a look. It’s approx 2.1 x 2.1m in size (7′ x 7′), 1.6km long in total, and lies at a depth of approximately 70m below ground level. Some 1km is traversable. One does so via a miniature train, and by foot for the final 100m. One can walk as far as a thick concrete wall that has a small glass vision panel within its structure, but nothing is visible on the northern side of the glass. No photography was/is allowed, and for one of the very few times in his life, MB obeyed the NO PHOTOGRAPHY rule. The persuasive power of heavily armed soldiers is indeed mighty!

Tunnel Nr 3 was unknown until a North Korean defector informed his southern interrogators in 1971 that he was part of a tunnel digging crew that had excavated a (still incomplete) tunnel under the DMZ, at a rate of 10m per day through the solid granite rock – 10m was the target productivity given by the gang bosses and was largely achieved with simple hand-held pneumatic drills. He was unsure of the exact location and for a long time, the southern military was unable to find it. The Southern security services excavated more than 100 vertical shafts deep underground and filled the shafts with water and monitoring equipment. Eventually, four years later, in 1975, the monitors in one shaft picked up some vibrations or noise, and the tunnel was finally located.

There is a large viewing area within the DMZ with high-powered binoculars for use of visitors. The view out over the North is lush and green, and there is a colourful ‘propaganda’ village a few kilometers in the distance. MB and MB2 resisted the temptation to set their feet amongst the 1M landmines and confined themselves solely to the viewing area. One of the largest flags in the world is also visible on the Northern side (the flag of North Korea), comprising a 160m tall pole and a flag that weighs approx 270kg.

How do you know the weight of the flag, MB???

There’s a limit to the info I can provide guys, given the sensitivity of the location, so just take MB’s word for it.

So, guys, all is presently well on the peninsula. However, should the need arise again in the future, MB and MB2 remain ready, willing, and able to return once more. The populations of North and South, and HX followers at large, can indeed rest easy!

A few snaps:

MB2 takes a shot on her phone of the northern view:
The lads that asked MB not to take photos in the tunnel!
MB2 and MB pose for fans!
Statue of two girls to remember and honor the ‘comfort women’ abused by the Japanese in WW2
Visitor hall DMZ plan
Razor wire fencing to prevent MB and MB2 wandering north

Some general pics:

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