Today, I tried something as odd as a sight-seeing tour to the Cold War, where it is still alive and kicking, the ‘DMZ’ – a No Mans land between the two Korea’s. We were were guided by a charming drama princess “Dora”, a 21-year old tourist-pro, who has nicknamed herself after the Dora mountain on the border between North and South Korea.
Dora knew her history well and a few jokes lightened her four hour speech, as we toured the DMZ, including the observation post on top of “my mountain” and the locked down “Dora railway station” with intact departure signs for Pyongyang.
Dora also took us down one of the famous communist-secret tunnels “The Third Tunnel”, which allegedly were designed to bring 30.000 soldiers an hour from the North along with artillery pieces.
“The communists put in a lot of hard work to build this tunnel. Now, we are making a lot of money from showing it to the tourists,” Dora said with a mischievous grin.
The tunnel is blocked with no less than three armored steel doors, so its not likely that the North will come this way unnoticed anytime soon.
But as “Dora” said: “If there is three tunnels under the DMZ, there might as well be another 20 tunnels, which we haven’t discovered yet!”
The heavy military presence everywhere on the Southern side of the DMZ provided the perfect stage for Dora and her guests. “Are you scared?” she asked us time and again with a flirtatious grin.
I, for one was worried – that is, if I was going to make it back from the visit to the tunnel 73 meters below the ground – a 350 meter ascending slope, equivalent of walking up a 20-floor highrise, is the only way of getting down there and back again. My girlfriend dared me – so there was no way escaping the ordeal.
Luckily, I did resist the temptations of the souvenir shop, which offered DMZ-rice in 10k and 20k bags and ‘genuine DMZ barbed wire’ on a commemoration plate.
Though it is somewhat weird to see a very serious, prolonged conflict turned into a sight-seeing cash-cow, I do salute “Dora” for today’s update on the eternal South Korean collective paranoia – and honest to God, you cannot blame the millions, living in Seoul an hours drive from the border, that they exercise extreme caution vis-a-vis the mad-men regime looming on the other side of the DMZ.