Waygook.org

All about South Korea => Life in Korea => Topic started by: cashclay on June 03, 2015, 09:24:08 pm

Title: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: cashclay on June 03, 2015, 09:24:08 pm
Is this possible. i really cant find anything on the internet.  I dont like traveling with the tour because you dont have the freedom to decide for urself.  Any info will help. 
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: zola on June 03, 2015, 09:31:47 pm
You mean into the actual JSA? You absolutely need to go on a tour.

I think you can go to sone observation areas and museums alone. But to go the truce village etc. You have to go by tour.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: nomadicmadda on June 03, 2015, 11:06:15 pm
inb4 headlines: Idiot Foreigner Barges Into North Korea; Demands Bail-Out When Trip Doesn't Go As Planned
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: terivinix on June 03, 2015, 11:08:54 pm
After the last guy, especially impossible. If you have sane intents, you could probably see more in Cheorwon without a guide.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: oskinny1 on June 03, 2015, 11:10:45 pm
Is this possible. i really cant find anything on the internet.  I dont like traveling with the tour because you dont have the freedom to decide for urself.  Any info will help.

This is exactly why all tours are guided.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: cashclay on June 04, 2015, 02:23:18 am
for the tours which one do you guys recommend and where do they pick up at?
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: mixedinkorea on June 04, 2015, 07:38:54 am
I recently went on the tour with the USO. Their tours are handled by koridoor. I don't believe you have to be a US citizen to use them, but you will have to show a passport.

I can't say anything about their JSA leg of the tour because that one was sold out. But the rest of the tour was fun and interesting. We went on a Sunday, and got to the 3rd Tunnel area earlier than other tour groups so it was nice to enjoy the peace and quiet and get in a few pictures (until the other tour groups came...). The only thing I didn't like was the stopping by the Amethyst shop when we got back into Seoul; it's obviously just to get you to spend a bunch of money at that one store, though the jewelry was beautiful.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: Piggydee on June 04, 2015, 07:39:21 am
I work inside the DMZ area and they won't let you go in without an approved DMZ id that is either provided to you by the Korean military or the US military.  My id is provided to me by the Korean military and it took 2 months to get.  Plus they must know that you are there for official business.  One time this past Larbor Day, the soldiers at the checkpoint didn't want to let me inside the DMZ because they were wondering why I was coming into work when most public school teachers had the day off.  I had to explain to them that I was going inside because I had to supervise a field trip for my school.  They almost didn't believe me till I had to get my co-teacher on the phone to tell them that I had school that day, despite it being a public holiday.  So unless they are under the understanding that I was there for school related purposes, they weren't going to let me inside the DMZ just by myself for sh*ts and giggles.  So sorry you do need a tour guide and a reason to go inside the DMZ area.  Hell I've even seen the Korean soldiers haggle US soldiers at the check point as well until they provided their identification. 
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: annataleen on June 04, 2015, 07:55:49 am
I recently went on the tour with the USO. Their tours are handled by koridoor. I don't believe you have to be a US citizen to use them, but you will have to show a passport.

I can't say anything about their JSA leg of the tour because that one was sold out. But the rest of the tour was fun and interesting. We went on a Sunday, and got to the 3rd Tunnel area earlier than other tour groups so it was nice to enjoy the peace and quiet and get in a few pictures (until the other tour groups came...). The only thing I didn't like was the stopping by the Amethyst shop when we got back into Seoul; it's obviously just to get you to spend a bunch of money at that one store, though the jewelry was beautiful.

Are you sure your tour was USO if they took you shopping then?  I did a private company tour in the summer of 2012 when I came to Korea as a tourist because the USO tour was full.  I think it was the same as yours because I didn't go to the JSA, and we went shopping for Amethyst after.   This past winter I did the USO tour to the JSA and there was no shopping.

I really think it is only the private company tours that take you shopping (that is how they make money).

Anyway, that is correct, anyone can do a USO tour, just show your passport and be at the USO office at the right time to join the tour.

The private company tours pick up at different areas around Seoul.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: annataleen on June 04, 2015, 07:56:31 am
I work inside the DMZ area and they won't let you go in without an approved DMZ id that is either provided to you by the Korean military or the US military.  My id is provided to me by the Korean military and it took 2 months to get.  Plus they must know that you are there for official business.  One time this past Larbor Day, the soldiers at the checkpoint didn't want to let me inside the DMZ because they were wondering why I was coming into work when most public school teachers had the day off.  I had to explain to them that I was going inside because I had to supervise a field trip for my school.  They almost didn't believe me till I had to get my co-teacher on the phone to tell them that I had school that day, despite it being a public holiday.  So unless they are under the understanding that I was there for school related purposes, they weren't going to let me inside the DMZ just by myself for sh*ts and giggles.  So sorry you do need a tour guide and a reason to go inside the DMZ area.  Hell I've even seen the Korean soldiers haggle US soldiers at the check point as well until they provided their identification. 

That is so interesting Piggydee!  I bet you have a lot of stories to tell!
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: jaehak on June 04, 2015, 07:57:45 am
for the tours which one do you guys recommend and where do they pick up at?

Take the USO tour to the JSA.  Any other tour is a total waste of time.  It's more expensive, yeah, but the JSA/border/UN buildings are far and away the most interesting part of the tour, and non-USO tours don't go there.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: weRborg on June 04, 2015, 08:04:49 am
I fully expect to hear a news story about this guy running across the border.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: AndyKanerva on June 04, 2015, 08:15:17 am
Is this possible. i really cant find anything on the internet.  I dont like traveling with the tour because you dont have the freedom to decide for urself.  Any info will help.
Don't know what everyone is on about, since you can just go to another part of the DMZ without a tour. If you go to a small town named Yanggu county in Gangwon DO, you just need to register to be able to go to Eulji observation in the punchbowl (great for seeing the DMZ and the NK side), and also you can see the fourth infiltration tunnel where NK burrowed into SK. You can even ride a little train into the tunnel.
You absolutely do NOT need a tour guide to do either of these things and they are both a very authentic DMZ experience, IF you want to make it out to Yanggu.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: Piggydee on June 04, 2015, 08:24:42 am
Is this possible. i really cant find anything on the internet.  I dont like traveling with the tour because you dont have the freedom to decide for urself.  Any info will help.
Don't know what everyone is on about, since you can just go to another part of the DMZ without a tour. If you go to a small town named Yanggu county in Gangwon DO, you just need to register to be able to go to Eulji observation in the punchbowl (great for seeing the DMZ and the NK side), and also you can see the fourth infiltration tunnel where NK burrowed into SK. You can even ride a little train into the tunnel.
You absolutely do NOT need a tour guide to do either of these things and they are both a very authentic DMZ experience, IF you want to make it out to Yanggu.

Well what I'm "going on" about is that there are areas of the DMZ that do require some form of identification and reason to get pass their check point.  If there is an open area for people to pass through and go and come as they please, well that's fine but that doesn't mean other areas are like that.  So if Yanggu the place to get you as close to the North as possible with no questions asked than that's cool. 
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: zola on June 04, 2015, 08:28:01 am
Is this possible. i really cant find anything on the internet.  I dont like traveling with the tour because you dont have the freedom to decide for urself.  Any info will help.
Don't know what everyone is on about, since you can just go to another part of the DMZ without a tour. If you go to a small town named Yanggu county in Gangwon DO, you just need to register to be able to go to Eulji observation in the punchbowl (great for seeing the DMZ and the NK side), and also you can see the fourth infiltration tunnel where NK burrowed into SK. You can even ride a little train into the tunnel.
You absolutely do NOT need a tour guide to do either of these things and they are both a very authentic DMZ experience, IF you want to make it out to Yanggu.

99/100 people imagine the JSA when you talk about the DMZ. I did the full day long tour and Panmunjom with the part where you are a few meters away from North Korean soldiers and you can cross the line in the truce house was by far and away the most interesting part of it.

If you are content with skirting along the outside, like a pleb, then be our guest.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: Timo on June 04, 2015, 08:36:14 am
If you're looking for being super close, Goesong Observatory is a good place to look across. Top right of the country in Gangwon. A real pain to get to though.

The JSA is the best place to go, and you definitely need a tour. USO/Koridoor is the best tour by far.

What do you mean by 'make up your own mind'. Do you mean on where to wander? If so - do you really want to be wandering around willy nilly on the North Korean border?
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: ChickenLegsMcGee on June 04, 2015, 08:45:20 am
want vs need.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: AndyKanerva on June 04, 2015, 08:54:59 am
Is this possible. i really cant find anything on the internet.  I dont like traveling with the tour because you dont have the freedom to decide for urself.  Any info will help.
Don't know what everyone is on about, since you can just go to another part of the DMZ without a tour. If you go to a small town named Yanggu county in Gangwon DO, you just need to register to be able to go to Eulji observation in the punchbowl (great for seeing the DMZ and the NK side), and also you can see the fourth infiltration tunnel where NK burrowed into SK. You can even ride a little train into the tunnel.
You absolutely do NOT need a tour guide to do either of these things and they are both a very authentic DMZ experience, IF you want to make it out to Yanggu.

99/100 people imagine the JSA when you talk about the DMZ. I did the full day long tour and Panmunjom with the part where you are a few meters away from North Korean soldiers and you can cross the line in the truce house was by far and away the most interesting part of it.

If you are content with skirting along the outside, like a pleb, then be our guest.
Like a pleb? The Yanggu observatory is not without it's merits. The Dutayeon area is awesome for hiking and from the observatory you can see North Korean soldiers (not always) or their station base. The fourth tunnel is pretty spooky to go through as you can see dynamite marks all through it. I was just offering an alternative option to the most popular ones. Don't know why going to another part of the DMZ makes one a pleb.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: Paul on June 04, 2015, 10:15:33 am
I think there's some confusion here. I've outlined my rudimentary understanding below. If I've made any mistakes, please do correct me. Note that I've only gone on the USO tour myself, but I've wanted to tour some of the other historic sites in the area for some time (misfortune has thus far got the better of me).

So, there's the DMZ and then within that are two villages (one in each Korea) and the JSA (Panmunjeom). You need a tour to go in there. However, south of that there's a civilian control zone (the official name eludes me; it seems to just be referred to as the area North of the "Civilian Control Line") where entry requires a permit. This region contains other historic places such as Old Cheorwon.

Have a read of this blog post (http://www.rjkoehler.com/2009/05/15/korean-war-ruins-of-cheorwon/) by Robert Koehler about touring the region north of the Civilian Control Line some years back, and this particular comment of his (emphasis mine):
Quote
Right --- the Iron Triangle Battlefield Museum will organize tours into the restricted zone (you need to do this before 2:30, though):

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264163

I just took a taxi in --- some taxi drivers have permits to go in.

Mind you, you don't need to go into the zone to see the Nodongdangsa, Cheorwon Methodist Church or Seungil-gyo Bridge.

Hope some of that makes sense.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: meepmoopimmarobots on June 04, 2015, 11:03:02 am
You can go to certain areas without a tour guide, but I can't think of which off the top of my head.

The area inside the JSA/Panmunjeom/Camp Bonifas is the best part of the tour besides the observatory, and there's no way you'll see any of that independently. The USO tour through Koridoor is wonderful (I've gone twice) and you have plenty of time to look around. The guides are great and you don't really feel herded at all.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: yfb on June 04, 2015, 11:24:11 am
If you want to peer into North Korea across the Imjin River you can just go to Tongil Observatory in Paju. Worth a day trip as part of a Paju visit.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: RandomTask on June 05, 2015, 10:49:48 am
Korean tour guides jump out at a certain point, and are replaced by US Army personnel. 
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: jamonamagnet on June 05, 2015, 10:52:49 am
Korean tour guides jump out at a certain point, and are replaced by US Army personnel.
We kept our Korean guide, and a US Army soldier joined us.  The soldier was an asshole.
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: yfb on June 05, 2015, 11:01:21 am
So here's why you can't just go into the DMZ alone and unescorted

The Korean Armistice Agreement specifies that no one shall be allowed into the DMZ without the permission of their respective unit (for the south, that's the UN Command).

The biggest issue is safety. The UN Command is also responsible for civilian safety in the DMZ. Contrary to popular belief the MDL doesn't have a fence or even any manmade barriers. It's just a series of signposts marking the point (see here (http://jeffreymillerwrites.com/military-demarcation-line-panmunjom/). So there's absolutely nothing stopping the North Koreans from going into the southern part of the DMZ and making some mischief and in fact it has happened before. It's for this reason that villagers in the south's Freedom Village have an 11 PM curfew.

There also seems to be some confusion between the civilian control zone (CCZ) and the DMZ. That big huge security fence you see on the way to the JSA on tours is the actual southern boundary of the DMZ (there's even a big sign saying as such). The CCZ has tightened restrictions but not as tight as inside the DMZ.

There's a fascinating documentary about life in the DMZ here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EsK7pBfSVo
Title: Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
Post by: mixedinkorea on June 10, 2015, 02:13:08 pm
I recently went on the tour with the USO. Their tours are handled by koridoor. I don't believe you have to be a US citizen to use them, but you will have to show a passport.

I can't say anything about their JSA leg of the tour because that one was sold out. But the rest of the tour was fun and interesting. We went on a Sunday, and got to the 3rd Tunnel area earlier than other tour groups so it was nice to enjoy the peace and quiet and get in a few pictures (until the other tour groups came...). The only thing I didn't like was the stopping by the Amethyst shop when we got back into Seoul; it's obviously just to get you to spend a bunch of money at that one store, though the jewelry was beautiful.

Are you sure your tour was USO if they took you shopping then?  I did a private company tour in the summer of 2012 when I came to Korea as a tourist because the USO tour was full.  I think it was the same as yours because I didn't go to the JSA, and we went shopping for Amethyst after.   This past winter I did the USO tour to the JSA and there was no shopping.

I really think it is only the private company tours that take you shopping (that is how they make money).

Anyway, that is correct, anyone can do a USO tour, just show your passport and be at the USO office at the right time to join the tour.

The private company tours pick up at different areas around Seoul.

Yes, it was definitely the USO tour. We even met in the USO office. I thought it was pretty weird too that a military connected tour would do that but oh well, I didn't buy anything so I don't feel like I wasted my money.