Monday, June 25, 2012

Paju Peace Park

Korea is the only remaining divided country in the world, and that makes for some fascinating history--as sad and as troubled as it has been. 

This past Sunday, one of my colleagues invited me to go with her family to the Paju Peace Park which is in the north western part of Gyeonggi-do along the Imjingak river, very close to the DMZ/North Korean border.  Through the eyes of a foreigner here in Korea, it is really interesting to see how South Koreans respond to talk about their Northern counterpart.  I mean, to be fair they are still technically at war, and to be even more fair, it's a war that has been at a standstill for the last 50+ years. The park was built under a special pretence and with a special meaning in mind, but as my colleague said, for her, "it's just a park" and you can totally feel that.  There is a mini-amusement park and kids and families building up tents and picnics only meters away from the peace bridge, peace bell and an observatory deck where you can look direction north. 

I wanted to share some pictures from the park, but if you ever get the chance to go, I would totally recommend it.  Enjoy!

Imjingak, the designated spot for 'peace' in the ROK.  The observatory deck with people looking northward.

Three of the four massive wicker men.  A art piece surely with significance to the north-south conflict, but unfortunately, we couldn't figure out what it was.

This park has patches of colorful pinwheels.  Such a simple but awesome way to add some fun to the park.
The pinwheels from a far. 
Bullet holes filling rusted train parts.  To remember the pain both sides struggled during the war.

Even though the other side of the fence is not yet North Korea, barbed wire was surrounding the park and there were a lot restricted areas and signs prohibiting photographs.  Not shown in the photo, is a railroad track leading to the last station in the north of South Korea, Dorasan.

Paying respects with flags and ribbons and letters to the 'other Koreans'.

Page 1 of a very sweet letter a child had written.  With my basic Korean I could decipher the main gist of it.  "North Korean friends, hello.  Quickly unification, so we can play together."

DMZ:  the sign behind reads, "DO NOT COME CLOSE OR TAKE PICTURES."

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