What is the DMZ – Demilitarized Zone
The DMZ is the area surrounding the Demarcation Line (DML) which separates North and South Korea. About a half-century ago, the DML was drawn to keep the two countries physically separated. This border came about from the need for peace between the two countries after the prolonged military and political tension. The DMZ is 250 kilometers long with a four-kilometer diameter.
North Korea is famous for being mysterious and very hard to visit. Our DMZ tours will allow you the opportunity to get as close to the infamous country as possible, and even look across the border!
What is the JSA – Joint Security Area
The JSA (Joint Security Area) is a common space between the North and the South. This is where the two countries coexist, with the help of the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC). This is the only place where the North and South forces stand face to face – a sight not to be missed!
The former village (Panmunjeom) sits 60 kilometers northwest of Seoul. It was originally called “Neolmun-ri.” The area is rectangular, with a size of 400×800 meters. It is set up on the Military Demarcation Line, essentially making it neutral. Here, you will find various buildings that accommodate negotiation talks, as well as a few bridges of great historical importance.
Don’t miss this chance to see one of the unique corners of the world! Our DMZ JSA tour is one of the most popular and loved tours in Korea, as we make sure that you see all these amazing landmarks in comfort.
JSA tour Regulations and Restrictions
The JSA is a special area due to its purpose – to preserve peace. Therefore the United Nations Command (UNC) have some strict regulations to bear in mind.
Everyone wishing to visit must supply their passport and register at least 72 hours in advance. We therefore request a copy of your passport page when booking. Your group should be at least 12 years old and those younger than 18 be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
In addition the UNC limits the number of people that can visit daily. This limit means it can get booked up very quickly.
If you wish to avoid the restrictions and be sure that there is enough space, we suggest you book our Half day DMZ tour. This way, you will still see everything there is to see at the DMZ, but will not have to deal with pre-registration and limitations.
What to expect on our DMZ JSA tour – key features
Our tour has a very well-organized itinerary that makes sure you don’t miss a beat and are as comfortable as possible. Starting with our complimentary pickup service from your hotel in Seoul.
We provide professional, licensed tour guides who will be there from start to finish to answer all of your questions. All of your transportation is included as well as lunch. We take care of all the entrance fees for you, so you don’t have to worry about the details!
One of the key features not to be missed on our DMZ JSA tour is looking into North Korea. When the weather is good, you can get a very clear view across the border!
We will walk through the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel dug by North Koreans in an attempt to attack the South. Don’t miss this chance to walk the steps of the soldiers! The tunnel has a steep slope and is two meters tall and two meters wide. If you don’t feel comfortable in confined spaces, we invite you to wait for us by the exit.
Lastly, we will visit the infamous border between North and South Korea! This is an experience you can not get anywhere else in the world!
Charge your camera – these are our tour highlights not to miss
Since this area is so rich in history, there are a few buildings and landmarks that you can not miss! We will make sure to cover them all on our tour. Here are all the details you need to know about these spots in advance.
Imjingak – a spiritual place for mourning
Sitting 53 kilometers northwest of Seoul, Imjingak is the place where South Koreans come to mourn their lost ancestors who have fallen in the Korean War.
This ritual happens on every Lunar New Year’s Day. It aims to comfort about ten million people who pay respects to their families lost in the North.
The Bridge of Freedom – crying “Hurrah!”
Until 1998, the Bridge of Freedom was the only direct link to Camp Greaves, Liberty Bell, and Panmunjeom. According to the history books from the war period, about 13,000 captives crossed the bridge yelling “Hurrah!” for freedom, which gave this structure its name.
Feel the spirit of exaltation as the war has come to an end at this historic place on our DMZ JSA tour.
The Third Tunnel of Aggression – crawling through time
This hidden tunnel was discovered in October of 1978. Resembling Tunnel II, which both the North and South knew about, this one was secret! The tunnel’s location lies just 4 kilometers away from Truce Village (Panmunjeom).
The measurements of the tunnel are 1,635 kilometer-long, 1.95 meters high, and 2.1 meters wide. It was made big enough to move a full division per hour and was clearly built for a surprise attack on Seoul! On our DMZ and JSA tour, we will have the chance to go inside and see the secret tunnel for ourselves!
DMZ Theater and Exhibition Hall – an organized look into past events
If you’d like to track the events of the Korean War and see a great amount of evidence, you would love the DMZ Theater and Exhibition Hall. Here, you can expect to see leaflets, bayonets, military letters, pottery, and empty cartridges.
These objects will truly give you an idea of what life was like during this tough period and will transport you back in time.
Dora Observatory – see across the border inside North Korea
While due to very strict regulations we aren’t allowed to go into North Korea, we make sure to get you as close as possible so you can have a look at the mysterious country! Dora Observatory is the closest point to North Korea.
At the height of 304 square feet and with the capacity to hold 500, this observatory is located at Mt. Dora and gives you the best opportunity to catch a glimpse into North Korea! This is one of the most exciting places on our DMZ and JSA tour.
Dorasan Station – the railway connecting North and South
Dorasan Station is a railway station which in the past, used to connect North and South Korea. It is located on the Gyeongui Line. The line was destroyed during the war and was later rebuilt. Dorasan Station sits just about 650 meters from the southern border of the DMZ.
There are two platforms of which only one is used, as well as two tracks, only one of which is used. The North-South rail link construction started in September 2000, 12 kilometers south of the Gyeongui Line. Later, in October of 2001, Imjingak station was opened. Then, on February 12, the Mangbaedan train passed through the Imjin River to Dorasan station, signifying peace and unity.
Unification Bridge – the idea of peace is manifested
The Unification Bridge (Tongildaegyo) started as an idea of unification. It was built symbolically in 1998 by the Hyundai Business Group of South Korea. The bridge towers over the Imjingang River, which flows from North Korea.
The bridge got a peculiar nickname – “Cow Bridge.” This is because of the founder of Hyundai, Mr. Jung Juyoung, who crossed the bridge going to North Korea in 1998, bringing 1001 cows.
Camp Bonifas – remembering a hero
Camp Bonifas is a military post that belongs to the United Nations. The site was previously known as “Kitty Hawk.” The name was later changed on August 18, 1986 to honor Captain Arthur G. Bonifas. The American captain was killed in the “axe murder incident,” so the camp was dedicated to him posthumously.
You will visit this camp during our DMZ and JSA tour. Here you will receive a briefing and watch a slide show from UN military personnel before visiting the Joint Security Area.
Freedom House – a safe space for peace talks
The Freedom House is located on the south side of the JSA and was finished in July of 1998. The building has a modern design and four floors. It serves as the home to the “South and North Liaison Office” and “South and North Red Cross Liaison Office.”
The goal of this space is to provide a safe zone for discussion, inter-Korean dialogues, and cultural exchanges aimed at peace.
Military Armistice Commission Conference Room – enforcing the historic agreement
The United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) was assembled in July 1953 at the end of the Korean War. Its goal is to make sure that peace is maintained and that the Korean Armistice Agreement is strictly enforced.
The conference room is where it meets. The North and South take turns using the conference rooms in the JSA, which have doors on both ends to ensure privacy and equal access.
Inter-Korean Peace House – leaving military matters aside
The Peace House was completed on December 19, 1969. It is used for talks that have nothing to do with the government or the military. It is located just next to the Freedom House, at 130 meters south.
This building was first constructed in 1980 when the prime ministers of the two countries needed a neutral place to meet and have a dialogue. It was later rebuilt in 1989 and is still in use to this day.
Tongilgak (Unification Pavilion) – the hidden office
Tongilgak is a conference hall on the northern side of the JSA that has a similar function to the Peace House. It has been mostly used as the house of North Korea’s “South and North Liaison Office.” That has been the case since May of 1992.
This is where various inter-Korean talks have taken place. Similar to the mysterious image of North Korea, this building is not easily visible. It is located 100 meters northwest of Panmungak, and you need to actively look for it to see it!
Panmungak (Phanmun Pavilion) – a place for propaganda
Panmungak’s role in the Joint Security Area is to represent North Korea. The building was first constructed on September 2, 1969. This is where North Korean officials have their offices. The building also serves as the waiting room for UN officials who want to have a dialogue with North Korea.
The curious fact about Panmungak is that propaganda efforts take place here. The North is famous for its efforts to promote propaganda information against South Korea. One such example is the “Pan-Korean Convention” that happens every August 5. Moreover, this building was completely closed off to the North Korean public until 1964.
The Bridge of No Return – a place marked by a shocking event
You may recognize this bridge from the popular James Bond movie “Die Another Day”. This is also the bridge where the famous “axe murder incident” happened on August 18, 1976. The bridge became infamous as the spot where General Arthur Bonifas and First Lieutenant Mark Bennett were killed.
The original purpose of this bridge, however, which gave it its name, was to be a place where POW (prisoners of war) were exchanged. Once a prisoner chose the country he wanted to go to, there was no coming back, hence the bridge of “no return”. Don’t miss the chance to see this tense and historically rich place on our DMZ JSA tour!
The Bridge of 72 Hours – a desperate need for access by North Korea
After the “axe murder incident” happened, the Bridge of No Return was shut down and was no longer in use. That meant that North Korea lost its access to the JSA. Shocked and desperate, the government decided to build a new one.
This is how the Bridge of 72 Hours appeared. It only took 72 hours for its completion, which was a massive effort on behalf of the North. This bridge connects Panmunjeom and the city of Kaesong to the north.
As you can see, the DMZ and JSA are two places extremely rich in history and unique in their cultural aspects. Be sure not to miss the chance to discover their mysteries with our DMZ JSA tour!