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“Once in a lifetime”
Review of Panmunjom

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Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and JSA Panmunjom Tour from Seoul
Ranked #2 of 43 things to do in Paju
Certificate of Excellence
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
225 reviews
124 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 133 helpful votes
“Once in a lifetime”
Reviewed June 29, 2013

I booked my tour of Panmunjom (also known as Joint Security Area - JSA) through Panmunjom Travel Centre in Lotte Hotel - advanced booking is needed as the UN Command needs to conduct background checks on every visitor and certain restrictions may apply. I took a combined day tour of the DMZ and JSA - these are different and you can always choose to make 2 separate trips, but I highly recommend this combined one if you have limited time and money.

The JSA is located in the southern segment of the DMZ, which is divided by the Military Demarcation Line. At Camp Bonifas (the camp operated by the US and S. Korea), we received a briefing about the history of the Korean War and various incidents that have since occurred in the DMZ. When we entered the DMZ, an American soldier escorted us throughout the trip in the bus and gave us information about the Panmunjom. However, if you want a totally unbiased view of the relationship between the North and South, don't just rely on the information given to you during the trip. After all, there are always 2 sides to the story. Our Korean guide was quite informative and helpful.

For those who are politically aware and inquisitive, I recommend this trip - the tension between the two remains and conflict is a live issue. it is a once-in-a-lifetime sort of thing to do before the inevitable reunification/unification of the two Koreas.

Visited June 2013
4 Thank Rachel L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Level Contributor
97 reviews
71 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“The Blue Buildings up close”
Reviewed June 25, 2013

Did you ever wonder what's inside those huts in the DMZ where the armistice was negotiated so long ago? Well, the tour will let you see the S. Korean soldiers standing in a modified martial arts pose (with clenched fists, dark glasses and all soldiers at least six-feet tall).Who sits higher than the other, who looks fiercer, etc., etc. are all still part of the prickly stand-off between North and South Korea. The furniture is modest and minimal. . Since the N. Koreans had disavowed the armistice when I visited, I believe some of the details had changed from the past--there were only a few N. Korean guards in front of a gray building in the distance and none near the armistice buildings. So it's a continuing drama--who knows what will be happening when you go there.

Visited June 2013
Thank travelerS_Korea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
139 reviews
40 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
Reviewed June 15, 2013

North and South are still technically at war to this day. This is the only place on earth where as a civilian you can enter an active war zone and be guarded by some of the biggest and baddest US and ROK MPs on the planet. This place is a must see if you know your history or are aware of the political situation that exists today. Panmunjom is "Checkpoint Charlie" on steroids. For me personally I was only interested in seeing the DMZ and the JSA. I took the shortest half day tour available. An hour up, an hour to wander around the DMZ and an hour back. It was a meaningful and fulfilling experience for me without all the other tourist fluff. You step inside North Korea via the conference room. No matter which type of tour you take, the DMZ guides have an abundance of information. ps....don't let the pictures of that huge building on the North Korean side fool you. As the guides will tell you, it may look long and tall, but it's only 6 feet in depth!

Visited March 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Green Valley
Level Contributor
156 reviews
52 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 77 helpful votes
“Great tour of the JSA”
Reviewed June 10, 2013

We booked through PTC located on the 6th floor of the Lotte Hotel and chose the JSA/Panmunjeom tour because we only wanted to see the Joint Security Area. We are happy we did this tour because it included the Unification Center and Injin Gak along with Camp Bonofas and the JSA (and lunch), and it cost us about US$70 each, which was reasonable. We also had a North Korean defector on our tour and she was interesting. It was a great experience to go into the conference room and actually walk over to the North Korean side of the demarcation line.

Visited June 2013
1 Thank Terry S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
60 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
“So unique!”
Reviewed May 28, 2013

We booked this tour and had to meet at the Lotte hotel for the morning.
The bus took us out of Seoul and on the first leg was about an hour but it flew by as the tour guide kept talking about the history and current situations around the DMZ. We also had a 'North Korea defector' on board, who some people asked questions which were translated. The guide seemed to skip around the answers and usually just fill up the answers with quite unrelated stories about how bad the North is (im sure its true, but it did seem a little bit like forced propoganda). We arrived at Dora Observatory which was another great place full of information, we got taken up and could look across the rivers into a part of North Korea. They had a lot of information around with maps, models, and artifacts from North Korea. We were made to watch another propaganda movie before moving on.
Next stop was the bridge of no return. We didnt have so long here, but enough time to have a look, take a photo and get the feel of the place. Then we had lunch which was included and it was a decent Bulgogi. Meat was limited but the side dishes and rice were limitless, so it was filling enough.
After that was the highlight for us all. We went into the joint security area, first stopping at an outer checkpoint to have passports checked. Then we got to the actual base, and were boarded by soldiers and had passports checked again. They rode with us inside where we signed some legal forms, and were put on a smaller military bus to go up into the JSA. It was unbelievable to actually be in that place. You could feel the tension. We were allowed to take photos facing the North, but not backwards to the South. We werent allowed to move a lot, or make noises etc. We went into the famous blue huts which stradled the border, carefully watched by American GIs and S Korean MPs. It was quick, but a great experience!
After that the bus drove with its jeep escort around the JSA to a few security towers etc.
Then we went back where there was a small gift shop, and then back onto our other bus and back to Seoul. Overall, its a really once in a lifetime chance.
I booked about 3 months ahead of time, so make sure you do, and also check the dates, as it is only available a few times a month. I was also worried it might be cancelled, or they wouldnt let us in the blue huts, but luck was with me!

Visited December 2012
1 Thank Ilikethai
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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