Korean DMZ, Seoul - Stein Travel
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Korean DMZ

For those with even a passing interest in historical affairs, the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) - a 4km-wide strip of land that divides the Korean peninsula in two - is an absolute must-see. The DMZ was established in 1953, at the end of the Korean War, and remains not only the most heavily-armed and guarded territory on the planet, but also the last surviving relic of the Cold War. Day-trips, which include guided tours of North Korean infiltration tunnels and the Joint Security Area ( Panmunjeon), the site of negotiations between the warring nations, cost around USD 40 and leave from downtown Seoul. Upon entry into the DMZ, visitors are required to put their signature on an indemnity form, acknowledging that they are entering a "hostile area", where they face "the possibility of injury or death as a direct result of enemy action" - this, however, is all part of the quiddity of the experience, and should be appreciated as such. Another interesting aspect of the DMZ is that - due to the total absence of development in the area for nearly 60 years - it has become the site of what must be the world's most unlikely wildlife sanctuary. An area of serene and unspoiled beauty, it is (putatively) home to several rare and endangered species, such as Asiatic black bears, Amur leopards and Korean tigers. There are also plenty of hotels and hostels in the area, should one desire to spend their entire weekend 'on the 38th parallel' - enjoying the pristine natural surroundings, soaking up the unique atmosphere, and stealing otherwise-impossible glimpses into the most mysterious country on earth.

Information & Facts

Admission

Tour costs are as follows: USD 42 (USO); KRW 77, 000 (Korean Travel Bureau and Chung Ang Express); KRW 78, 000 (International Cultural Service Club)

Language

The official language is Korean.

Money

South Korea's monetary unit is the won (KRW). Currency can be exchanged at most banks and at casinos, and travellers cheques cashed at authorised banks and hotels. Most merchants in the cities accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards, but Koreans traditionally prefer cash. ATMs at banks are usually accessible only during banking hours, and instructions on the machines are generally only in Korean. Public ATMs at convenience stores and subway stations are generally available 24 hours. US Dollars are an accepted form of foreign currency and can be used as US Dollars in the areas around the American Military bases in South Korea.

Opening Times

Tour times vary

Time

Local time is GMT +9.

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