South Korea Travel Destinations

Korea, Goseong DMZ – End of the Line

Goseong DMZ South Korea
Written by Duke Stewart

Can you picture what will be, So limitless and free, Desperately in need…of some…stranger’s hand, In a…desperate land. – Jim Morrison, The End

Goseong DMZ – End of the Line

We’re at the end of the line after two days of driving north. There were beautiful memories along the way but this was the point of it all. It’s time to head back to the Korean DMZ but this time on the Eastern and less publicized side. The first trip came on a January day more characterized by blistering cold and frozen rivers. Also, there were no Koreans other than our guide and bus driver on that day. Today, we’ll be the only foreigners in attendance at the Goseong DMZ.

Goseong DMZ Buddha

The Goseong DMZ is easier for locals to enter but its location all the way up in Gangwon Province’s northeastern tip creates a long journey for those venturing from Seoul and other cities. Goseong’s Unification Observatory is the main draw and aside from serving North Korean goods not usually found, its lofty perch offers exquisite views and opportunities for pictures of North Korean mountains.

South Korean Side of the Goseong DMZ

A Buddha and Virgin Mary Statue face North Korea as a message that the South is “praying” for unification someday. While that’s a tricky matter to tackle, the gesture is at least welcome if not controversial in itself. Unlike the tours organized from Seoul, the atmosphere is highly relaxed and almost carnival-like when crowded. It’s somewhat shocking to hear children making machine gun noises pointing at the north and NOT being scolded by worried parents.

Looking to North Korea at the Goseong DMZ

You can read about my first experience at the DMZ here

Not too far away from here, a North Korean soldier shot a tourist at a resort across the border and led to said place’s closing. But still, there’s no sense of caution or anxiety while staring at the government’s enemies. This is yet another reason why traveling is worth the trouble. We have to get out and see it because this is certainly different from your TV and news feed. People all over the world proclaim this a dangerous place but other than the streams of barbed wire around us, it seems like a Korean Disneyland. Music, food, and ice cream override the suffering and chaos taking place across the border.

North Korea from the Goseong DMZ

But it’s easy to ignore the Goseong DMZ’s decadence when staring at the mountains in the distance. Roads continue, eerily, into the North and make one think that they’ll someday resume serving traffic back and forth between the two neighbors. I can’t stop thinking about the waves and birds on the barbed wire beach below the observatory. To them, it’s just another stop on that long journey south or north depending on the season. There’s no fuss and it’s not the end of any line. There’s just enjoying the moment before moving on. Hopefully someday that’ll be the case for Koreans north and south.

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Visit Korea Goseong DMZ by Duke Stewart
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About the author

Duke Stewart

As a recovering Expat, I write about Life through Travel and want you there with me through captivating stories followed by guides on how to do the same. My work has been featured in various magazines throughout Korea and in online publications including the awesome Hipmunk.com. I am also a nerd and love to point out a situation's similarities to any of my favorite movies, books, or tv shows. You've been warned:) Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily updates.

6 Comments

    • Thanks Chris. I appreciate you stopping by to read. It was a mixed experience, to be honest, though one I think everyone should see. Those images of kids pointing imaginary machine guns at the other side really resonated with me, but not in a completely bad way. It showed me that animosity from this side is still strong, and not just in my neck of the woods (Jeollanam-do).

      On a side note, I was at the KBlog awards and unfortunately didn’t get to meet you. Congrats on the win, btw!

  • Hey, you made it back! Great picture of the North, looks like the weather was perfect this time 🙂

    I really liked that second to last paragraph. It’s strange seeing the roads going on like that, with nothing really in the distance except the mountains. Also, driving the highway up and seeing signs for China, Kazakhstan, etc. Someday…

    • Thanks Nathan. I really appreciate your compliments. It was good to get back to the DMZ and on the less touristy (for foreigners) side as well. That view was to die for.