(CONFIRMED) Goseong County DMZ Tour

Saturday, July 29, 2017 -
7:00am to 8:00pm
Gangwondo (East Coast)
70,000W for members & 84,000W for non-members
Tour Leader: 
Steven Tharp

This day trip to Goseong includes visits to the Goseong Unification Observatory and the Gangwondo DMZ Museum along the Korean DMZ, Geonbongsa Temple, the former vacation villas of President Syngman Rhee, Kim, Il-sung and Rhee’s Vice Presidential running mate, Yi Ki Bung.

Proposed Itinerary:
- 7AM:  En route to Goseong
- Short stop at Geonbongsa Temple
- Visit the former vacation villas of President Syngman Rhee, Kim, Il-sung and Rhee’s Vice Presidential running mate, Yi Ki Bung
- Lunch (depending on time, we will have lunch before or after the villas)
- Afternoon: Visit Unification Observatory and DMZ Museum
- 5PM: Return to Seoul (dinner at a rest stop on the way is optional)

a. There is not a dress code for any of the locations. Walking shoes and comfortable clothes are recommended for the visit as there will be time and opportunity to walk the forest paths along the stream at Geonbongsa and there is a small hill to climb at the Unification Observatory.

b. Poisonous snakes (독사) appear to be numerous at Geonbongsa based on the large number of warning signs.   


c. Before transiting through the Civilian Control Line, all participants must be registered at the registration site (group registration by the coordinator) and view an 8 minute video in Korea which highlights required and prohibited behavior as well as background on the Korean War. The admission fee to go to the Unification Observatory. The admission fee for the DMZ Museum is separate and will be paid at the site. Participants should bring either their Korean ID card, Alien Registration Card or passport.


Tour Sites:


a.  Goseong Unification Observatory was constructed in 1983 at the northeastern most tip of the Republic of Korea. Of the 13 observatories situated in or near the DMZ and Han River, it is the northern-most and closest location in the South for viewing Mt. Geumgang. From the observatory, you can see Haegeumgang, and the islands nearby, Manmulsang, and Hyeonjongam. On clear days, you can also glimpse various Geumgang peaks of Mountain such as Ilchulbong Peak (1,552m), Chaehabong Peak, Jipseonbong Peak, Yukseonbong Peak, Gwaneumbong Peak and the greatest peak, Birobong Peak. It is about 500 meters uphill from the parking lot to the observatory.  A new observatory is under construction but will not be completed until the end of 2017.


To the east of the Observatory are statues of the Virgin Mary and Buddha where one can purchase incense to burn. Just up the hill from the Buddha are some military equipment static displays. Inside the observatory is a store which sells local agricultural products on the first floor and similar shops on the second floor. Unlike many other observatories, there are no soldiers providing briefings on the security situation. Outside on the 2nd floor is an observation and photography deck where you can view the coastline up to North Korea. On the west side of the parking lot is a building which houses the Korean War Experience Museum. It is a walk-through exhibition hall that tells the story of the Korean War through pictures and video before ending in a room dedicated to the recent efforts to recover and identify the remains of the soldiers killed in the war. The last couple of rooms are dedicated to the United Nations Command and the modern Korean military. There is a small gift shop near the exit with DMZ and military-related gifts.


b.  Gangwondo DMZ Museum is a few kilometers south of the Unification observatory and is the only civilian security education center strictly focused on the DMZ. The land area is 151,242 sq. meters and the total indoor floor area is 10,760 sq. meters. Summer operating hours are 0900 to 1800. The main exhibition hall is organized into 4 zones. Located on the first floor, Zone 1 is titled “Unblessed Birth” and focuses on the history of the division of Korea and the Armistice Agreement that created the DMZ. Zone 2, “Vestiges of the Cold War” has exhibits and displays which visually portray the physical appearance of the DMZ (signs/barbwire/fences) as well as a decade-by-decade history of altercations between the warring parties and a land mine exhibit. The visitor then passes into Zone 3, the “DMZ is Alive,” the final zone on the 1st floor. This zone focuses on the ecology of the DMZ to include stuffed specimens of the fauna that lives there. Finally, the visitor arrives on the second floor via escalator to view Zone 4, “DMZ, Dreaming Again.” This exhibit highlights South-North cooperation projects and exchange programs over the years since the DMZ was created. The final part of the walking tour through the exhibition hall is a display of propaganda leaflets distributed by both sides during and since the end of fighting in the Korean War. Outside of the museum are static displays of weapons, North Korean boats that drifted south and a huge exhibit of types of electronic and wood propaganda signboards and propaganda broadcast speaker banks.


c.  Geonbongsa Temple is one of Korea’s top four temples and served as a staging base for warrior monks during the invasion by the Japanese during the Imjin War, 1592-1598. It was originally established as Wongaksa Temple in 521 AD in the Silla Kingdom. The temple was remodeled at the end of the Koryo Kingdom and renamed Geonbongsa Temple at that time. Choson Dynasty King Sejo made this his praying temple in 1465 AD and but Osilgak as a tower for the kings. A major fire destroyed 3,183 rooms in the temple in 1878. Prior to the Korean War, Geonbongsa had 642 rooms including 18 subsidiary temples with 124 rooms before being destroyed during heavy fighting in the last two years of the war. Only the Burimun Gate, built in 1920, escaped destruction.  Since then, an active restoration effort has been underway.



d.  President Syngman Rhee’s Villa was built in 1954 but fell into a state of disuse by 1961. It was not repaired until July of 1997 by the army, and was fully restored in 1999, opening as an exhibition hall. It is very small and only has a couple of small rooms with some of Rhee’s artifacts. Lee Ki-poong’s villa is located between the villas of Rhee Syngman and Kim Ilsung on the shores of Hwajinpo Lake. The villa was originally built by foreign missionaries in the 1920's. It began to be used as a priviate residence by Lee, the Vice-president to President Rhee, and his wife Maria Park after the Armistice Agreement went into effect.


e.  Kim, Il-sung’s Villa, the Hwapojin Castle was initially used by a foreign missionary, Sherwood Horn, as a chapel. The castle is a stone construction of 2  upper floors and an underground floor, and was used by Kim Il-sung from 1948 to 1950 when this area was in North Korea.  The castle was damaged during the Korean War but was restored in 2005. There are a series of displays about the Korean War and North Korea on both floors. Inside, materials about the Korean War and North Korea are displayed. From its hilltop location next to the beach, it has a great view of the neighboring shoreline and ocean. Hwajinpo castle is located on a hill overlooking the East Sea and Hwajinpo Beach.



Cost of the excursion is W 70,000 for members and W 84,000 for non-members and includes round-trip transportation, all entrance fees, and lunch. The bus will depart from the Yongsan Post Office (Subway line number 4, blue line, Sinyongsan Station #429 exit 1) at 7:00 am, and return is slated for 8:00 pm. Dinner is not included and optional at a rest stop on the way back to Seoul.

NOTE: The usual Exit 1 is currently closed for construction. Please take Exit 4 and cross the street twice (exit 1 is to your diagonal left from exit 4: taking exit 6 will take you on a long detour). There will be a map for directions in the underground passway of the Metro station. 



To register, click here or email the information below to royalasiatickorea@gmail.com by Wednesday, July 26, 2017



NAME: ___________________________________ MEMBER _______ NON-MEMBER _____

NAME: ___________________________________ MEMBER _______ NON-MEMBER _____

PHONE NO: (Office) ________________(Home) ______________ (C.P) ___________________
☞We can only confirm this excursion with a minimum of 15 people. We will let you know whether we can confirm or cancel. Please make a payment only when the trip has been confirmed. Payment can be remitted to the following account: SHINHAN BANK ACCOUNT # 100-026-383501 (RAS-KB)



Contact Us

Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
Room 611, Korean Christian Building, Daehak-ro 19 (Yeonji-dong), Jongno-gu, Seoul 03129
[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

Office is open Monday through Friday from 10 to 5 but we are short staffed and there are meetings elsewhere often: please call or email before your visit.
Phone (02) 763-9483 FAX (02) 766-3796
Email - royalasiatickorea@gmail.com

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