Thursday, April 25, 2013

DMZ washout blues (DMZ Trip #4)

Cheorwon County got hit with morning rain so the much-anticipated trip to the DMZ with the Boys Middle School didn't go quite as planned. Instead of seeing the DMZ and going hiking, we went to the Labor Party Building and Baek Ma Go Ji (White Horse) memorial site. (No pictures from the site, unfortunately!) The bus rides to and from the sites probably took longer than the time we spent hanging around, but we all had a decent time. The rain wasn't coming down too hard, so we didn't get soaked or anything. I was particularly excited to get a closer look at the old and bombed out Labor Party Building because I'd only seen it from a tour van's window before. Ms. J the boys school co-teacher snapped the photo below.

It's an imposing old structure. The Soviets certainly liked their right angles and straight lines. I couldn't help but think of 1984 when I saw it, for surely some devious Commie actions went down in there. It's not something to think about, but it's an integral part of Korean history. The popular Korea blog The Marmot's Hole colorfully describes the building here:
A symbol of the tragedy of division and war and a testament to the power of Soviet civil engineering, this building — which you read about here — was erected in 1946 as the local headquarters of Ye Olde Workers Party of Korea, North Korea’s ruling party. Built in that charming Soviet style favored in North Korea’s early years — see here for many more examples — the building took a licking during the battles for the Iron Triangle but kept on standing.
And why yes, those are tread marks from a Sherman tank leading up the steps.
Indeed, if you look closely, you can see the tread marks on either side of the walkway. Despite its dark past, I enjoyed seeing this piece of history up close. Did the students? Hard to say. Most were too busy being kids and trying to stay dry, but I'll ask them about it later. The teachers looked like they had a good time though. Ms. J apologized for the rain, but it couldn't be helped. A little rain never hurt anyway. It was good to get out and see more historical sites.


As I mentioned before, the Labor Party Building's part of the Cheorwon DMZ tour, which the Joongang Daily wrote about here. Gracie, Rochelle, and I took the tour on a sunny day in October and enjoyed it. I'll have the post about it up soon. It's been sitting half-finished in the drafts folder for some time now. Until then, here are a couple pictures from the excursion:

At the Cheorwon Peace Observatory. The DMZ is behind it, but pictures of the DMZ aren't allowed.

At the blown apart tracks of the old Woljeong-ri Station. 

More to come later!


The Marmot's Hole: Korean War Ruins of Cheorwon. An excellent pictorial of Cheorwon's war relics. Good info, too.

The Marmot's Hole: Former Cheorwon Office Of The Workers' Party Of Korea. More pictures and info about the Labor Party Office.

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