Sunday, June 29, 2008


This weekend I went to the DMZ.
For those not in the acronym know, the DMZ stands for the De-Militarized Zone. The area between North Korea and South Korea. The would-be front line. The once and former last line of battle.

If these walls could talk.
And actually, they did.
There were slide shows with pictures of the past. There were buildings covered with words and history.
There were short briefs detailing events gone by.

In short, we learned a lot.

To prove my learning, here is a list of what I now know.

A few years back the DMZ housed the world’s most dangerous gold course. This one-hole wonder is located a matter of meters from North Korea.
Its place as number one was recently taken by a course in Kabul, Afghanistan. Also created by the American Military.

There are two villages in the DMZ. One is owned by the South Koreans and the other by the North.
The southern village is full of farmers who are well compensated to live and farm in this notoriously dangerous and land mine fill area. (In fact, they say there are still over 2 million land mines scattered throughout the DMZ.) The northern village, known affectingly by the military as Propaganda Village, is a bit of a sham. Civilians do not live there. Most of the buildings are nothing but facades. And up until recently they blared propaganda on loud speakers with enough volume to be heard far over the border.
Things about a pro-communist world.
About the greatness of Kim Jung Ill.
About why you should defect in their direction.

Hence the name Propaganda Village.

A few years ago the South Korean Village put p a flag. A flag on a rather large pole.
North Korea could not be outdone and erected a pole far larger. One that supports the largest flag in commission in the world. It measures 31 feet across and weighs 600 pounds.
In a related event, Soldier of Fortune magazine is offering a one million dollar reward to anyone with the stones to cross the border and liberate a 1 square foot of that flag.
If you have a plan, I am close to that area and could put said plan in action. You have to, however, be willing to foot the bill for my extradition if it becomes necessary.
The picture below is of that village and the pole in question. Sadly there was no wind and therefore the flag is quite limp.

There is a bridge in the DMZ that is known as The Bridge of No Return. It is the bridge used when the North and South Korean prisoners of war were given the choice of which country to return to at the end of the war.
They had an actual choice.
But once they made that choice they were stuck with it. They could never return.
Hence the name.

The following is a picture of the bridge. It is not much to look at, unfortunately. Bt the story is pretty cool.

Next stop on the tour was the actual border. There are several buildings on both sides of the line. There were soldiers from both countries guarding their respective patch of grass.
We saw the rooms that the peace talks took place in.

At this point our military guide started shoving us in our bus. His voice was one of urgency. As it turns an American government official was crossing the border. He had just witnessed the destruction of North Korea’s Nuclear cooling tower and was coming back to the south.
I managed to snap a picture.

Since the end of the war there have been many isolated incidents that had the potential of starting things a fresh. One such incidence was in the mid 70’s and is now known as the Axe Murder Incident.
Guess how it got that name.

It’s a long convoluted story that you really should read but I am not going to retell for fear of messing the details. Google it if my version does not do it justice. (And my snippet most defiantly will not do it justice.)
For a short version it involved a tree between the North and South Korean lookouts, one that needed a trimming.
This led to 3 US soldiers taking their axes to do some pruning. They were then attacked and killed by numerous North Korean soldiers.

This, in turn, led to Operation Paul Bunion. 50 armed Karate trained South Korean soldiers, jeeps full of armed American Military, a war ship stationed off the coast, and heap of other random weapons all backed up a small grouping of soldiers with machine guns and chain saws.

They cut that damned tree down.

All in all, the trip was great. Though my passport was never stamped, I stepped both feet on North Korean soil.

That’s right mom. I have been in North Korea.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The summer is here for sure.

It is fairly hot here and terribly humid.

There are the random unexpected suntans and burns in strange places.
There are the sweat drenched walks to and from work.
There is foreign pollen in the air causing my nose to explode in a cacophony of noise and dripping snot.
Good shit, really.
Good times.

Nothing like sniffeling and snorting during cooking class.
Nothing like the joy of sneezing with your hands covered with flour.

Needless to say that after one such class I have had to take the back seat to all cooking like endeavors for the past day or two.

The joy of inventory instead of teaching.
The joy of disipline instead of instruction.
The joy of hitting the bloody power point buttons instead of being a real and tangible member of the classroom.

Damn nose.
Stupid pollen.
Freaking empty bottle of antihistamines.

I feel like there is a waterfall in my nasal cavity.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My bike!

Here is a pretty picture of my bike.
It's shiny and happy and almost fast.

I have been spending a lot of time tooling around rice patties, seeing the sights, attempting to find a way into North Korea.

For the past few years I have really missed having my own form of transportation. I have lived in places where there were either no roads (Alaska) or a place so far away I just couldn't get my car to go (Korea).
My car is somewhere in Florida.
Far too far from here.

Now I have the freedom I have been missing for so long.
I call her Bosco.
Bosco the Bike

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