Panmunjom is a village on the border that represents the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. It is in this village in the Gyeonggi Province that the 1953 Armistice was penned, signifying the end of the fighting in the Korean War. The village and the DMZ are located about 39 miles northwest of Seoul. If you are interested in viewing this most heavily militarized border in the country and essentially the final vestige of the Cold War, your best bet is to take a USO Panmunjom tour.

These guided tours provide insight into the tensions and circumstances that surrounded the fallout from WWII on the Korean Peninsula, the causes of the Korean War, and takes tourists to see historic sights like the Military Armistice Commission building where the 1953 accord was signed (by everyone but South Korea). South Korea DMZ tours are certainly not the most lighthearted way to spend your day on vacation, but it is a hugely important site in terms of historical significance and even political tensions to this very day.

The 38th Parallel, along which the DMZ in Korea, runs was originally the line that separated the areas on the peninsula occupied by the U.S. and the Soviet Union respectively after World War II. In 1948, it became an international border separating North Korea from South Korea as a result of the creation of the two separate nation states. Increased tensions led to the outbreak of the bloody Korean War that began on June 25, 1950. On July 27, 1953, the DMZ was established when a ceasefire took effect and both sides agreed to move back about 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). To this day, the DMZ that runs along the 38th Parallel is two and a half miles wide as a result of this initial agreement. There is even something known as the Military Demarcation Line that cuts through the middle of the DMZ and indicates exactly where the fronts stood when the agreement was made.

An interesting note is that since South Korea never signed the Armistice of 1953 and there was never a peace treaty that followed, by international standards, the two countries are technically still at war. Taking a USO Panmunjom tour takes you inside this fascinating part of Korea and guides you through a brief history as well as a survey of the most significant sites. The South Korea DMZ tours that the USO (United Service Organizations) offer take you to places such as the tallest flagpole in the world on the North Korean side (you will view it from the southern border), the Pagoda at Freedom House, and much more.

When you take a USO Panmunjom tour you can trust that you will be in good hands as each tour is guided by a United Nations Command military personnel member. There is a dress code for the South Korea DMZ tours so be sure to check with the USO to get the most updated information on current requirements. If you have a chance to visit Seoul, it is only a short bus ride to Panmunjom, a historic place well worth exploring for the afternoon.



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