I visited the Non Militarised Zone on the border with North Korea this morning, on an organised tour. (Note to self: Don’t strike up a conversation with any American lady on a tour bus, in case she wants to spend the rest of the morning telling you her life story). The Zone was fascinating. We were able to visit a ‘ghost station’, created by South Korea as a piece of very expensive propoganda, ready for the first train to run after reunification; an obervatory point where we could see the border clearly – and two enormous flags, competing with each other to be the highest; and a tunnel, ostensibly one of over 40, dug by the North Koreans in readiness for invasion. And we also saw a whole load of South Korean propoganda material, telling us that the DMZ is a nature reserve and place of peace, just waiting for reunification. Fascinating. I thought that I had escaped the conference, but on other tour buses throughout the morning I ran across members of other delegations making similar visits to my own. The Kiwis kept popping up as well as the USA (who had, of course, chartered their own bus…)
In the afternoon, the heavens opened and I experienced a real monsoon. Seoul was very, very wet. I just managed to get in a visit to the royal palace and a brief wander around that area of the city before it started raining. Then, later on, I dodged the raindrops to go out to dinner, where I enjoyed a typical Korean meal, followed by a very untypical ice cream.
Finally, back to my hotel room, to watch American Forces Broadcasting, showing CSI, The Simpsons and a whole range of infomercials about American military values, avoiding credit card fraud in foreign countries and planning for retirement.
All in all, an interesting day.