To the Edge of North Korea

A South Korean soldier

In a new article on GoNOMAD, writer Lucy Corne explains a recent trip to the now tourist destination, the DMZ along the North Korean and South Korean border. Though this is still a sight of Cold War relics, people come to snap photos and get a glimpse of what life might be like on the other side to the most mysterious country in the world. Here’s a selection.

The small, simple structure still hosts talks on the topic of reunification and has the added curiosity of straddling the two Koreas. We all get a little giddy as we get our only chance to cross the border without running the risk of being shot and an air of silliness takes over from the previous grave atmosphere. Couples pose for photos with the South Korean guard who stands in the ‘ROK ready’ position – hands clenched ready to grab a pistol or launch into Taekwondo.

In our new-found excitement one girl forgets the latest rules we’ve been issued and makes to walk behind the guard to pose on his other arm. His reaction is instant: the clenched fist is stiffly raised to eye level and one foot steps in her path, blocking the door out to the North.

Her reaction is as rapid, though not as quiet as she lets out an involuntary yelp. Tension seizes the room and there’s a collective flinch, as we are sharply reminded that this is not Madame Tussaud’s and that one wrong move could end in disaster.

The torrent of cheesy snaps subsides and we again cross the courtyard, this time heading for the pagoda-style observation tower. Everyone jostles to take as many photographs of the North as possible and once my film is finished I snap on the lens cap and ball my hands into fists once more, slightly reminiscent of the ROK ready soldiers.

It’s definitely not a trip you’ll soon forget. Read the rest of Corne’s trip on