Before you arrive at the Joint Security Zone – the main guts of the DMZ tour – you are first taken to the Freedom Bridge, the place where over 13,000 South Korean soldiers returned home after being held prisoner by the North. Additionally this location was a coveted strategic position for both armies during the war, and being such, was the site of many heavily armed conflicts. You would think this is would be a solemn area – a place to ponder the atrocities of war; perhaps a place for quiet personal reflection. You’d be wrong. Instead, the first thing visitors see when arriving is a huge amusement park with a carousel, water rides, and one of those stupid swinging pirate ships that are only worth the 6 tickets it takes to get on if you sit on the very end. While these attractions don’t exactly set the tone one might expect at a typical war memorial, it does help take your mind off the Loony-Toon country with nukes just miles to the north that’s run by 3rd graders, and hey – is that cotton candy over there? Oops, where was I? While still very impressive, the historical importance of the Freedom Bridge would have resonated much more if it weren’t for all the distracting souvenir shops and kitschy decorations. But what can you do? Actually now that I think of it, maybe the amusement park is actually a keen strategic maneuver, like, “Hey, North Korea, check out all the fun we’re having down here in the South. Sucks to be you guys. Have fun eating nothing but rice for the rest of your life. What’s that? You’re all out of rice? Maybe we’ll send you over some left over Elephant Ears when we’re done with we’re done with them.” Yeah, that’s probably it. Click for more pics:
Freedom and Funnel Cakes
Looking out towards N. Korea, a.k.a. The Hermit Kingdom
The view from the top.
The calmness of South Korea
At the entrance of the bridge