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  • yfb
  • Expert Waygook

    • 864

    • July 05, 2010, 11:50:12 am
Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
« Reply #20 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.


Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2015, 10:49:48 am »
Korean tour guides jump out at a certain point, and are replaced by US Army personnel. 


  • jamonamagnet
  • Expert Waygook

    • 610

    • April 01, 2015, 10:09:26 am
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Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
« Reply #22 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.


  • yfb
  • Expert Waygook

    • 864

    • July 05, 2010, 11:50:12 am
Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
« Reply #23 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. 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
« Last Edit: June 05, 2015, 11:03:59 am by yfb »


Re: i need to go to the DMZ without tourguide
« Reply #24 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.