Wandering Camera

North Korea (DPRK) - Keson. 38-th parallel. Border.
(Translated b
y Natalia)


At the end of our trip we've visited the south - we went right to the Southern Korea border (and also to the frontier city Keson).
Have to remind, that formally the Southern and Northern Korea are still in condition of war between each other, so the situation at the border is rather uneasy. It's not even a real border, just the line of demarcation which is passing on 38-th parallel.


Curious, that they've changed our driver for this trip. The driver, who drove us before, went with us too, but as a second driver, and not right to the border. We called our new driver "comrade colonel" : He was a serious man, business-like and simple in dialogues (in a pointed manner). Of course, he wearied a civilian suite. Once we saw (near the border), that people at the check item have saluted to him, when they've recognized him (at 10 meters, when he was sitting at the car!). The checks became serious, as we were getting closer to the border. Looks like it's been justified. At the one of the check items we saw soldiers with machine guns, laying in the grass behind the trees. I'm sure, they were ready to shoot anytime.
Keson city, not far from the border.

It's about 200 km far from Pyongyang.

I just remembered - I saw a billboard near the main road, leading from Pyongyang to the south. "Korea - is the one!" - was written there in English and Korean.

It's able to see this idea in the other posters. On the official "Korea map" (I bought it in Pyongyang) there's no state frontier at all. And on the cover there's the whole Korean peninsula, painted in red, with the Northern Korea sign on it.
The writing on the top of the map says: (the map is in Russian):

"Our nation - is the united nation with grey-haired, five thousand years history. This is the brave and energetic nation, that's from ancient times goes on the persistent fight against foreign invaders, against all reactionary ruling circles. This is the talented nation, which brought the big contribution to development of a science and culture of mankind". - Kim Ihr Sen.

The real line of demarcation is passing on 38th parallel.

Keson was a capital of a state Korio (918-1392) and there're some old (or re-constructed) architecture monuments. On the picture: a quite big village of old buildings.
I think, that Koreans shouldn't develop their tourism, reckoning on western tourists. It looks like that, by the services and list of sightseeings.

Anyway, in current variant, they would never entice foreigners from the West (despite any extremals). But for the ex-USSR tourists it all looks quite suitable.

We drove from Keson to Pkhanmunjom village - about 8 km from Keson.

At the 300 m to the border (to demilitarized zone about 2 km wide) we were invited to rest in a small house. The frontier guard came to talk to us (with the help of translator).We had a small talk about politics. Basically, he asked the questions. Like these:

"I heard about president elections in Russia and that V.Putin is elected. Has he got the real people's support?"
"What is, to your mind, the most serious obstacle on the way to unite the Korea?"

Because we two answered in different ways, we asked the girls to translate the answer that they liked most :)

Then we wished the luck to each other and went back to the bus. The previous driver left us. The "comrade colonel" sat behind the wheel again and also two soldiers with machine guns and the frontier guard went with us. Five pics below you can see this frontier as a guide.

We've driven on the narrow road, surrounded with barbed wire. And soon we appeared on the spacious square with the view of Southern Korea.

Here's the view (from building balcony).
From this place to Seoul - about 25 km.

Three houses that you see, are situated near the border. The huge building with the curved roof - is in Southern Korea.
Soon I've got the feeling that I'm in USSR, and there's USA on the other side :)
The signs were everywhere. It's begun from the north-Korean and south-Korean uniforms (looked like soviet and American) and finished with people's behavior at northern and southern side. Our proleader was constrained and silent, not less than we. On the southern side the frontier-guards stood with the legs on width of the shoulders, having their hands behind the back.

Soon from the south-korean building the bunch of tourists appeared - maybe, Americans and Europeans.

The man with megaphone in his hands came before them and started to tell the south-korean version of events during the war. We heard almost every word. Well… now I understand why we came here : Our proleader seemed to read our minds and has grinned silently, as if he wanted to say: "You see everything, I've nothing to add".

Later I've read in some western story about visit to Northern Korea these lines: "Down by the demarcation line, North Korean soldiers stood stiffly in dress uniform on one side, stared at by slouching South Korean troops in mirrored sunglasses on the other. From afar they looked like Russians and Americans..."

Looks like it's not our impression only. By the way, the American forces are still quartered in Southern Korea.

Being imbued with "cold war" atmosphere, we went down and came to the one of the houses, where the negotiations between North and South were held (and they say that they're still do sometimes).

Due to it's historical rule, this house has become a sightseeing, and later, when the situation became easier, the North and South have come to an agreement, that they'd show the house to tourists, on-turn.

When we reached the house, the south-korean frontier guards and tourists went out from there and locked their door. We have opened the door from the northern side and entered the house.

Two soldiers have passed with us as protection, and a proleader invited us to sit down at the both sides of a desk.

The desk was old, the chairs were made of leather, and the leather was chapped because of it's age. They seemed to be kept since 1950-ies, when the delegations from both sides were sitting here.

We sat down, and the proleader smiled and told us that I'm now sitting in Southern Korea, and Alexey's sitting in Northern :)

And inside of this building, standing a bit further from the border, the contract about an armistice has been concluded. There's a date at the monument: July, 27, 1953.

This large building is almost empty inside. Just a desk with documents under the glass stands in the middle and the conditioner works in the corner.

At the end of the story I would like to ssay some things. The northern Koreans by their mentality are uncomparably closer to Russians, than Europeans (I'm not even talking about Americans!). Even the Czechs are more far from us.

It's difficult to make examples (and they're not for public notes). But you must believe me: after a couple of days, when you stop pay attention to external and language differences, sometimes you get a strong feeling, that you talk to Russians.

The same moments as: "it's impossible, but if very much desirable, then it's possible". The understanding of some ambiguous moments without the words. Very similar "everyday problems" (of course, I compare not with the "new Russians"). The same principals of high education.

That's all.



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