Picture pirouette: Don’t point in the DMZ, Korea

This is not a particularly beautiful photo, but it’s hard to take photos when (a) you have to take them from within a building, before you’re allowed into the joint security area and (b) you’re running through a million warnings in your head about not taking photos in particular places, not pointing, not waving, not sneezing three times (well, maybe not the last one).

If you haven’t guessed, this photograph is from my day trip to Panmunjeom, the demilitarised zone (DMZ) at the border of South and North Korea. It was quite a tense day out, not made any easier by the fact that we were told only as we got on the bus that we shouldn’t wear T-shirts (or jeans for that matter, although they’d mentioned that before) but we didn’t have anything else with us. They let us stay and showed us all the sights of this tense border area – well, the sights that they have decided people are allowed to see. It’s one of the few situations I’ve gone on a guided tour, simply because we weren’t allowed to visit any other way. And while it was fascinating, it does seem particularly sad that the two Koreas must relate through this border, or in other words, almost not at all. Of course, when I was a kid I never expected to see West and East Germany reunited, so you can never say never, but I don’t see there being one Korea in the near future.

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