Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An American Werewolf... in Pyongyang

I didn't make it quite as far as Pyongyang, but I did get within a few hundred yards of the Military Demarcation Line that officially separates North and South Korea. The North Korean army blasted numerous infiltration tunnels under the DMZ that were eventually discovered by the South. They are now open for tours.

Unfortunately, all of the real sites at the DMZ were snowed in the day I visited, but I was able to see the Freedom Bridge up at the boundary of the Civilian Restriction Zone. At the present day, only the occasional freight train passes over this bridge to supply the few joint ventures that the North and South cooperate on. If relations between the two countries are ever normalized, this train bridge will lead trains to Pyongyang, onto China, the Trans-Siberian Railway, and then Europe. It's a romantic idea made further intriguing by current talk of an undersea railroad tunnel between Kyushu and Korea. Imagine riding a train from Hokkaido all the way to London!

I bought some North Korean beer and sochu as a souvenir. See later.

It was my second time visiting Korea since I first came to Asia. Seoul is an incredible city, fast paced and hip like Tokyo, but a little rough around the edges and more down to Earth. The real character of the city comes out at night. There are awesome restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and clubs around every corner. Braving the winter cold, I had the pleasure of witnessing the snowy streets illuminated by moonlight and neon.

The snow was beautiful.

Sipping North Korean beer with my roommate after returning to Tokyo

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