27 April 2004

A Cold Day for a Cold War: Part III – Under the DMZ

After lunch at the “Sanctuary Club” at Camp Bonifas, it was off to the Third Infiltration Tunnel, one of four North Korean infiltration tunnels found on the ROK side of the DMZ. The Third Tunnel was discovered after receiving intelligence from a defector. North Korean miners had managed to get the tunnel within 44km of Seoul before it was discovered in 1978. There are estimated of up to 17 other infiltration tunnels under the DMZ.

The ride down the elevator/train thingy was an adventure in itself. The South Koreans are proud of sing drilling machines to drill the tunnel down to the tunnel in just three months, compared to the estimated five years work on the tunnel by the North. But the shaft down is a rough-cut tube, barely wide enough for the three-abreast elevator/train and with plenty of places where it was so narrow that the outer people had to lean in and the center person duck. In some places the walls had been sealed with concrete, in others they were bare rock with a metal net bolted to the rock andother parts had Plexiglas sheathing to deflect the drips.

The tunnel itself (the North Korean one, that is) is around two meters in diameter. They claim it can move like 10,000 troops in an hour, well they must be short troops, and rather skinny. Lets just say it was a good thing they handed out hardhats… The shaft down to the tunnel was around 300 meters, then we walked back through the DPRK tunnel around 265 meters to where the ROK forces had sealed it off. It was 20 degrees C inside the tunnel, and felt much warmer than outside. It was also rather wet. On the way back out, I did stop for a drink of “DMZ bedrock water.”

Upon re-emerging to the surface, it was possible to hear North Korean propaganda music wafting on the breeze. I also acted like a tourist and bought piece 04856 of 150625 pieces of barbed wire cut from the DMZ on June 25, 2000 as part of the memorial of the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. It will go well with my piece of the Berlin Wall.

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