Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Never Ending War

Even though we are technically in a war in the U.S. I don't think we truly grasp the concept. Especially if you don't have a loved one overseas fighting. For those that do or have... you grasp that something is going on and that there is danger involved, but until it's on your doorstep I don't think we can fully "get it."

The DMZ was quite the reality check. I live in a country that is still technically at war with it's own race, culture, and family. I have never felt so much tension in the air as I did at the DMZ. The soldiers are literally feet away from each other staring at each other with rigid bodies and dark glasses over their eyes so that they don't aggressively look at each other and start an actual fight. These two countries have been at a cease fire for over 60 years, and it doesn't look like it's about to end anytime soon. And it means that fighting could start at any moment.
This is in the conference room half is in the North side and half is in the South. The microphones literally split this table in half and separate the two countries. I stood in North Korea... what a feeling!

After the tour through the JSA the Joint Security Area. This is the area that the U.N. runs. There are about 700 soldiers at this camp and 5% of them American. But technically they are the U.N. not South Korean or American. It was a little trippy to see the U.S. soldiers in such an intense setting.
A propaganda village in North Korea across the Han River.
The lovely man staring at me with his binoculars is North Korea soldier. If you point, wave, or make any gesture towards them they will use that as a way to do something against the tourists... I was sweating up a storm at this point in time. He was literally staring...right...
Random Fact: For the DMZ we had to look nice, no holes in the pants or dirty/grubby things. If we do the N.Koreans will take pictures and use it as propaganda! They'll show the pictures and say look at these Democratic Nations they can't afford to have nice clothes or clothes with no holes. Seriously... crazy.
South Korean soldier facing down his enemy.... and countryman.
prayer ribbons and barbed wire...
A look out post along the border.

The tour was quite the experience and one I won't likely forget anytime soon. I can't imagine the U.S. being completely split and hostile with an actual boundary and border between the two halves. I know it was like that during the Civil War but not for 60 years. Not with a crazy dictator who is basically starving his country to death. I can't imagine the gov't informing me that they found another tunnel made by the enemy to surprise attack us. And I certainly can't imagine having family members on the other side of that fence that I cannot contact and may never see again.

The reality of where I am and the seriousness of the situation of the two Koreas fully hit me today and it gives me a lot of respect for the men in the military here and the respect for the people of S. Korea who hope for unification every single day.


Laura said...

Wow, what an experience! The pictures of the barbed wire are great. Are you're totally right - Americans with no one in the military don't really 'get' the fact we're at war. And even when we do have people who have fought, all we know is from our own point of view. You faced it up close and peronsal.

Kayla said...

We really wanted to go to the DMZ while we were there but we were told by a few people that we might not want to take Gabriel and we never had anybody to watch him so we didn't go:(

Rolf said...

You and Jonathan are experiencing somethings that few Americans experience. When we are in those kind of situations, we really can realize how blessed we are. thanks for sharing your thoughts and pictures.

The Stephens said...

It just seems unbelievable!