P'anmunjom-ni Travel Guide

  • Kijong-dong Village - from the Joint Security Area
    Kijong-dong Village - from the Joint...
    by wabat
  • Watching me --- look closely
    Watching me --- look closely
    by wabat
  • Nth Korean Flagpole in DMZ - Bigger than SK's :-)
    Nth Korean Flagpole in DMZ - Bigger than...
    by wabat

P'anmunjom-ni Things to Do

  • ..and having writ, moves on....

    Our guides in the DMZ were keen to point out the monument bearing the autograph of Great Leader Kim il Sung, said to be a replica of that on the very last document endorsed by the great man on 7 July 1994, the day before his death. It was one of the first things we saw after exiting our bus in the carpark, en route to the Panmungak (aka The White...

  • Little Flags and Naughty Soldiers

    On your visit to the DMZ from either side of the border you cannot fail to notice two massive flagpoles and flags, one North Korean and the other South Korean. I have written a separate review on these flags -Mine is bigger than yours – The Flagpole War . In that review I also mentioned how the Korean War, with the signing of the Armistice...

  • Mine is bigger than yours – The Flagpole...

    The Korean War is now (in 2014) in its 61st year with no end in sight. Physical hostilities with a few very notable exceptions ceased on 28 July 1953, the day after the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in the Peace Museum (see my separate review) here in what is now commonly referred to as Panmunjom.Since the Armistice Agreement the War has...

  • Kijong-dong Village. Is it or isnt it...

    When the Korean Demiltarised Zone (DMZ) was established in 1953 two villages were permitted within the zone – one on the North side and one on the South side (Taesong-dong). Tourists are not permitted to visit either village.The village in the North’s half of the DMZ is Kijong-dong (picture 1) and was built in the early-mid 1950s. According to the...

  • Watching me, watching you....

    These are the two largest buildings within the Joint Security Area (JSA) of the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). The buildings, one in North Korea and the other in South Korea are directly opposite each other and about 80 metres apart, separated by the UN Conference Row which straddles the border itself.The North Korea building (Panmungak – picture...

  • Soldiers on the border in the Joint...

    As I have indicated elsewhere in reviews on this page, the Joint Security Area within the Demilitarised Zone is where North and South Korean soldiers come face to face on a regular basis. Ostensibly the soldiers are here to facilitate a peace negotiation process, and bring an end to a war which has now being running over 60 years. In practice they...

  • The Joint Security Area & Meeting Rooms

    When most people think of the Korean Demilitarised Zone the image that most often comes to mind is one of Joint Security Area (JSA), and in particular the three blue and two white buildings therein which straddle the border between North and South Korea (picture 1). The JSA is the only place where visitors from both North and South Korea visit -...

  • The Great Leader’s last signature

    On the 8 July 1994 the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, passed into immortality. On his passing he became the Eternal President of the DPRK still guiding his people from the afterlife and forever alive in their hearts.The day before Kim Il-sung died at his beloved Mt Myohyang mansion he was serving his people at Panmunjom. Above all, he had committed his...

  • The Axe Murder Incident

    With the signing of an Armistice Agreement in 1953 Korean War hostilities came to an end and former combatants commenced negotiations to bring about a peace agreement to formally end the Korean War, a war which gained practically nothing for either side but cost the lives of almost 3 million people.At the time of my visit in April 2014 these peace...

  • Armistice Agreement Signing Hall – Peace...

    After over 2 years of negotiations in the Armistice Talks Hall (see my separate review) and the death of nearly 3 million people the two combatants in the Korean War, North Korea/China and the United Nations Command or UNC (South Korea, the USA and about 10 other “minor” participants –importantly, under command of the US and not the UN) agreed on...

  • Armistice Talks Hall

    This was our first stop within the Demilitarised Zone.The Korean War started on 25 June 1950 with the North’s invasion of South Korea (denied by the North which claims the South started the war). Three years later on 27 July 1953 the hostilities came to an end when an armistice agreement was signed. By this stage nearly 3 million people had lost...

  • DMZ Visitors Centre and Toilets

    Contrary to what is written by many visitors from South Korea to the DMZ, the “big gray building” - Panmungak - in the North Korean part of the Joint Security Area is not the North Korean Visitor Centre. More on that building in my separate review - Watching me, watching you. Panmungak/Freedom House.Prior to entering the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ)...

  • Reunification Murals

    Just prior to entering the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) we entered what I would describe as a sort of compound area. Here we were asked to get of the bus and attend a briefing session prior to continuing on into the DMZ. At this point the bus was searched ( I imagine for stowaways) and our local guides and the driver surrendered their identity...

  • Dining al fresco en route to the DMZ

    The majority of our trips outside Pyongyang involved travel of less than a couple of hours. There were a few exceptions and apart from the trip between Pyongyang and Kaesong/Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) we were exhorted to ensure we had taken care of ablutions and other needs we might have as the bus would not be stopping en-route.En-route to the DMZ...

  • The Reunification Highway

    Time to contemplate or speculate.Getting to Panmunjom, the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ )and the border with South Korea requires a 175 kilometre trip from Pyongyang along the Reunification Highway (also called the Pyongyang-Kaesong Motorway). While the highway continues on a further 70 kilometres to Seoul it is closed at the border and a through...

  • Prayers between the two Koreas

    This monument was located behind the river but we, tourists, could not go nearer. Anyway it was unusual and we all took pictures of it.

  • 'Peace Museum' and Armistice Talks Hall

    These buildings are reached after leaving the Visitors Centre inside the DMZ. They were reputedly erected in 'a couple of days' to accommodate the talks, held on 27 July 1953.We got a look at the small building where the talks were held (a table, some chairs), before moving to the more interesting 'Peace Museum', a barn-like building with a group...

  • Does 'The Concrete Wall' exist?

    The DPRK is very keen on on the 'Concrete Wall' story. We were accompanied by the jolliest military man we encountered on this trip. Not a stern faced fellow he. It is quite a long drive into scrubby hills, with many villages along the way. We weren't supposed to take photos from the bus windows, but of course, that did not stop us.We proceed up a...

  • World's Tallest Flag

    I've read mixed reports about if the DPRK's flag just outside the JSA is the world's tallest, but I will say that I've seen none that compare to it.

  • World's largest flagpole

    During the 1980's, the South Korean government built a 98.4 metre (328 ft) tall flagpole in Daeseong-dong, a village built within the DMZ. The North Korean government responded by building a taller one — the tallest in the world at 160 metres (525 ft) in Kijong-dong, the so-called Propaganda village that is said not to have any inhabitants.

  • North side - Peace Pavilion

    A week after visiting the DMZ on the north side, I came back again as part of South Korean tour and these are some views of the North Korean Peace Pavilion. The third photo is of the building from the other side i.e. the side you don't see if looking from South Korea.

  • South side - Freedom House

    This photo was taken from the balcony of the Peace Pavilion which is located on the north side of the Joint Security Area. Before the building was built there was just a simple small Korea pavilion overlooking the area even though the large Peace Pavilion was on the north side.

  • South Korean border guards

    Some photo's of the South Korean guards standing outside the MAC (Military Armistice Commission) building at the JSA (Joint Security Area). They stand in a taekwondo pose so as to be an imposing fret on the North Korea guards, who look like they simply ignore them.

  • North Korean border guards

    Some photo's of the North Korean guards standing outside the MAC (Military Armistice Commission) building at the JSA (Joint Security Area). You will notice a raised piece of concrete next to the guards. It measures 40cm wide and 7cm high and was placed here to show the MDL, (Military Demarcation Line), which separates South and North Korea. It was...

  • UN Conference Row

    In the middle of the JSA (Joint Security Area) are five small buildings known as conference row. The central building is known as the MAC (Military Armistice Commission) where talks between North and South Korea take place. The other buildings are for the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission and the United Nations Command. These buildings are set...

  • Joint Security Area

    After visiting the Armistice Talks Hall & Peace Museum, we got back on the bus and made our way further south towards the JSA (Joint Security Area). Our bus parked behind the North Korean Peace Pavilion that looks over the JSA. We were then lead around to the side of the building were their is a signature plaque with Kim Il Sung's signature on it...

  • Armistice Talks Hall & Peace Museum

    After visiting the visitors centre, we got back on our bus along with our lieutenant colonel from the KPA (Korean People's Army) and proceeded out of the compound through a narrow passage which was lined on both sides with anti-tank devices. We then stopped on the way to the DMZ at a small compound with a few buildings known as the Armistice Talks...


P'anmunjom-ni Restaurants

  • wabat's Profile Photo

    by wabat Updated May 31, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Typically when I travel I am very conscious of exactly where I am. This, of course, is related to the fact that I have to work out how to get to where I am and how to get away.

    I generally don’t go on tours but in North Korea there is no option. Here one has no say where one is brought, what one sees and where one eats so one tends to switch off and go with the flow. Sorta “Beam me up Scotty” to the next sight I must see. And so it was that after our tour of the Joint Security Area we were herded back onto the bus and taken to lunch. Typically, for northern tourists, lunch is taken in or around Kaesong, outside the Demilitarized Zone. We, however, ate at a restaurant inside the DMZ.

    Try as I might to locate said restaurant on Google Maps or find any information on it on the Internet, I have (apart from one picture) been unable to find any information or the precise location of the restaurant. It was certainly no more than a couple of kilometres from the Joint Security Area and there are no markings on the outside that gives any clue as to the buildings purpose.

    That be as it is, the restaurant is big and sterile like most others we ate at – not untypical of where tour buses pull up anywhere in the world. The food was the usual fare for North Korea – ample but not flashy. We had a tasteless soup (picture 2 – that’s an egg noodle) followed by various bits and pieces and ended with the usual bowl of rice – all washed down with beer and water.

    I was surprised at the size and location of this restaurant. For sure there are not enough Northern tour buses to keep it busy. I wonder if it doubles up as an officer’s mess or the like though I saw nothing to substantiate this assertion.

    This is my last review on Punmumjom. Thank you for reading my reviews. I hope you found them interesting, useful and/or both. Please do return to my Panmunjom introduction page and leave a comment if you wish.

    Favorite Dish: Nothing stood out

    DMZ Resturant Various Dishes Soup with Egg Noodle Plastic leaves decorate stairs

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P'anmunjom-ni Transportation

  • Orchid's Profile Photo

    by Orchid Updated May 23, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The road from P'yongyang to P'anmunjom, called the Reunification Highway, runs for nearly 200km, two lane blacktop, with a small hedge down the median. Occasionally we saw folk trimming the hedges.

    The single most distinctive element of this highway is the lack of traffic. There is rarely another vehicle to be seen (well another bus did seem to be following us), though there is quite a bit of foot traffic to be seen.

    The fields either side of the highway had recently been harvested, so sheaves of rice and were in evidence, ready for storage against the cold winter.

    Once at the entrance to the DMZ though, after a short propaganda lecture, we travel though a narrow passageway, lined with tank barriers, ready to be dropped in place. Travelling though the DMZ to the Truce Village at the JSA (Joint Security Area), the road is lined with barbed wire fences.

    Note: We had no trouble taking photos from the bus - though occasionally we were told not to - and at these times we complied with the requests. My motto throughout was 'it is better to seek forgiveness, than to ask permission'.

    Empty Highway Portal to the DMZ Barbed wire lines the road
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Photography

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P'anmunjom-ni Warnings and Dangers

  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    by Willettsworld Written Sep 7, 2008

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    It's best not to step out of line or say anything that can undermine yourself or anyone else within your tour group as things are taken very seriously here and there's good reasons why as there's been many conflicts and shootings within this area between the two sides over the years. For me, it was another highlight of my time in North Korea. In fact I actually came back here one week later as part of a South Korean tour which was very different to the North Korean one. For example, on the South Korean tour we had to sign agreements so that the UN will take no responsibility in any actions that may arise whilst visiting. We didn't sign anything or were told nothing as part of our North Korean tour. We were told not to take any bags, point, run and to walk in single file as part of the South Korean tour. We could take bags and virtually 'fool' around on the North Korean tour. So, the differences are even there to be seen on the tours yet alone the places themselves.

    Photo of me to mark the occasion

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