DMZ Train Dorasan Security Bus Tour: Sit-In-Coach Tour to Dorasan Peace Park, Tongilchon (Unification Village), Dora Observatory, The 3rd Tunnel and Unification Platform

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The DMZ Train Dorasan Security Tour is the extension of the DMZ Train from Seoul to Dorasan, getting you around the Civilian Control Zone (CCZ) just south of the Korean Demilitarized Zone conveniently by bus. As the DMZ Train schedule fits around this bus tour, and the point of going to the DMZ is to see it, I would assume everyone would want to get on this special bus tour and not just waste time at Dorasan station to wait for the return train back – but also I’m not sure if it’s even allowed to skip the tour anyway. The DMZ Train Dorasan Security Tour brings you to Dorasan Peace Park, Tongilchon (Unification Village), Dora Observatory, The 3rd Tunnel and the Unification Platform in Dorasan station after the tour.

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As I had used my Flexible 2 Days KORAIL Pass for the DMZ Train ticket, I purchased the DMZ Train Dorasan Security Bus Tour separately on board the DMZ Train 4887 as the staff went around. The tour costs ₩18,000 (~S$20.75) for adults.

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Boarding the DMZ Train bus.

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I was assigned DMZ Train Bus 3 while in the queue earlier in the shelter at the platform.

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The tour guide who sold me my bus tour ticket kindly told me to sit beside him for the tour as the tour is conducted in Korean while he can explain it personally to me in English. How nice of him.

Photography out of the bus to fenced and military areas (which is like most of the route) is strictly prohibited. There is also an inward facing CCTV on board.

Dorasan Peace Park

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The first stop is Dorasan Peace Park.

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Dorasan Peace Park is, well, a park. Something that you don’t expect in a high-tension area.

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There is a local guide to welcome everyone from the DMZ Train bus, but my tour guide advised that since everything is Korean, just skip the talk and go walk around by myself.

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The overall map of Dorasan Peace Park.

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The needle near the entrance entitled “The Creation Of The World”.

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Heading into Dorasan Peace Park.

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An ecological pond near the entrance.

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The main path down leads to the Pavilion.

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Information boards on the DMZ are placed along the path.

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Polish soldiers returning home from Korea by train.

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The famous Bridge of No Return.

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Some abstract art entitled “A boat through the gate”.

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Portions of the fallen Berlin Wall stands here too.

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More information boards of reunification.

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Kim and Moon doing stuff.

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Heading to the Pavilion where there is a Dorasan Peace Park Exhibition.

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The exhibition explains briefly what the DMZ is, but also promotes the many wildlife here that flourishes here since no man can touch the land in the DMZ.

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Some information panels about the DMZ.

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Looks like a small exhibition on railway parts littered around the DMZ.

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Yup, definitely railway.

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Hmm, looks rather ancient.

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Don’t run over these things.

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Heading to the Marine Monument.

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An amphibious tank in the Dorasan Peace Park.

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A land tank parked beside.

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The overall view of the Marine Monument.

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A plot of colourful windmills entitled “Love and Peace”.

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Heading out of the Dorasan Peace Park back to the bus.

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The three DMZ Train buses at Dorasan Peace Park.

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The interior of the tour bus. Looks just like the Giant Ibis bus in Cambodia.

Lunch at Tongilchon (Unification Village)

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The next stop was for lunch. The tour bus brought everyone to a Korean buffet place in Tongilchon (Unification Village). Lunch is not included in the tour price.

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Queuing up for lunch. The restaurant staff will come around the queue near the cashier to sell the buffet for ₩7,000 (~S$8.04) per person.

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The whole place looks like an military cookhouse.

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Picking up my food from the line, like in a cookhouse.

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My fresh rations Korean food for lunch today.

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A variety of Korean dishes are available to pick from, including an interesting cold sweet and sour soup. With the big partitioned plate provided, I don’t think it’s necessary to go back for seconds too. For the quality and quantity of the rations, I must say that it’s quite worth the ₩7,000 since the most basic Korean food in Singapore already costs more than that.

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Local drinks are also on sale in the cookhouse.

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In case you don’t have cash on you to pay for lunch, the restaurant accepts credit cards, or there is also an ATM just outside of it.

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Opposite the restaurant is a local shop.

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Local produce on sale here.

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There is also a section of souvenirs of the DMZ.

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Probably the section which most people would buy souvenirs from.

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Toilets are available in a separate building outside.

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Heading back to the restaurant building to reboard the DMZ Train bus.

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As there are other tour buses from the same company parked here too, always check the bus number before boarding.

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Re-boarding my DMZ Train Bus 3.

Checkpoint to North Korea

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Along the way to Dora Observatory, the bus passes the real gateway to North Korea.

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This is the South Korean immigration checkpoint for vehicles heading on to North Korea. For obvious reasons, there is absolutely no one queuing up at this overland border.

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The actual DMZ is demarcated by a blue line along with a UN sign.

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Crossing from the CCZ into the real DMZ.

Dora Observatory

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The next stop is Dora Observatory, though the bus parked at a military post and everyone had to take a walk up to the observatory since there was no space for bus parking there. Dora Observatory is a lookout point across the DMZ into North Korea.

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Heading to the Dora Observatory from the bus park.

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The walk involves an uphill path.

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The steepest part up the hill is just before the observatory.

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The DMZ Train crossing the Freedom Bridge in Imjingang.

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The courtyard of the Dora Observatory.

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Uh… Yoo Si-jin?

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The view of Tongilchon from the courtyard of the Dora Observatory.

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Dorasan Cargo Centre from above. Unfortunately, the freight yard is empty with no trade with North Korea, or China, Russia, or the rest of Europe and Asia in general.

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The road entrance to Dorasan Cargo Centre.

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The railway junction to Dorasan Cargo Centre from the main line.

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Dorasan station from above.

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Heading into the Dora Observatory.

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The overall map of the Dora Observatory.

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Heading into the theater to see what it’s showing.

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Hmm, looks like lots of seats, but there’s no show being screened.

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The view out of the theater looks towards North Korea.

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In front, there is also a 3D map of the surroundings, including North Korea.

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Heading up to the second floor to a glass observatory.

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The Dora Observatory has a fence around it to prevent people from straying into the DMZ.

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Looking out to North Korea.

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There is also a cafe beside it for a tea break.

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The roof top definitely offers the best views.

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There is a sheltered stretch with free binoculars to peek into North Korea.

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Looking out to North Korea from the raised platform.

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Looking out to North Korea.

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The South Korean flag at Daeseong-dong.

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The taller North Korean flag at Kijŏng-dong.

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The two flagpoles facing each other across the DMZ.

Here’s the view from left to right of Dora Observatory:

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The view of Kaesong Industrial Area, which has since been shut down in 2016.

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The empty land between Kaesong and Kijŏng-dong where the Pyongbu Line runs through between Panmun and Pyongyang.

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The view of Kijŏng-dong or Peace Village. This place is also known as Propaganda Village as it is said to be uninhabited, but built to encourage pro-North Korean defection from South Korea.

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The DMZ.

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South Korea’s flagpole at Daeseongdong-gil.

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The view of North Korea without zooming.

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Looking back to Jeomwon-ri.

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Looking back at Dorasan Cargo Centre.

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The end of the line at Dorasan Cargo Centre and the only buffer stop in Dorasan, away from the main line to North Korea.

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Heading out of the Dora Observatory after getting a good view of North Korea.

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Heading down the slope.

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Too bad the DMZ Train skips Imjingang so I can only see the view from these picture boards.

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The military area on the right is heavily fenced off.

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Approaching the bus park.

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Some bus spotting on the walk away.

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The winding roads which are a common sight in the DMZ.

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A steep descend for buses here.

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Toilets and a gift shop are available at the bus park.

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Re-boarding my DMZ Train bus.

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A better shot of the DMZ Train bus interior.

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Seats are arranged in a 2+2 formation with a large cloth for the washable head and back cover.

The 3rd Tunnel – DMZ Theater

The next stop of the tour is the The 3rd Tunnel, where there are 3 main areas to visit – the DMZ Theater, the Unification Globe and The 3rd Tunnel itself. To better understand the situation, the tour kicks off at the DMZ Theater to watch a video about The 3rd Tunnel first.

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Heading into the DMZ Theater.

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Taking my seat in the DMZ Theater.

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The Korean film goes on to explain briefly about the DMZ and then talks about the four found North Korean infiltration tunnels for tunnel warfare, and how The 3rd Tunnel poses the most threat to South Korea as it is only 44km from Seoul.

The 3rd Tunnel – Unification Globe

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After the short film, I headed to the next attraction place, the Unification Globe.

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Despite showing the dangers earlier in the film, the monument just beside the DMZ Theater shows the two Koreas working to bring peace to the world (globe).

The 3rd Tunnel Train

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Behind the Unification Globe is the station for The 3rd Tunnel Train down to The 3rd Tunnel, most of the time described as “monorail” in tour itineraries. (It is NOT a monorail.) Unfortunately, The 3rd Tunnel Train was not working on the day of my visit.

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The entrance to the platform of The 3rd Tunnel Train.

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The 3rd Tunnel Train. This single train runs on a single track through a dedicated tunnel.

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The front and rear seats are for the driver, depending on which way the train is heading.

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Seats are arranged in facing bays of 4 seats.

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The Spanish Solution is adopted for stations of the The 3rd Tunnel Train.

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The 3rd Tunnel Train entrance tunnel into The 3rd Tunnel.

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As The 3rd Tunnel Train was not in operation, I headed back to The 3rd Tunnel main foot entrance.

The 3rd Tunnel Mockup

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An information panel of The 3rd Tunnel.

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A not-to-scale map of The 3rd Tunnel.

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As photography is prohibited within the tunnels, a mockup of The 3rd Tunnel is available here to take a souvenir photo of The 3rd Blockade which visitors can access up to, and is the closest a visitor can get to the actual Military Demarcation Line between North and South Korea at just 170 meters away.

The 3rd Tunnel

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Next, it’s finally time to head into The 3rd Tunnel.

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A safety brief is conducted to explain what The 3rd Tunnel is and what you should and shouldn’t do inside it. Unfortunately, the briefing was in Korean. The necessary instructions were clear though – leave your bag in the lockers provided, and no cameras and phones are allowed. An x-ray check is conducted before entering The 3rd Tunnel.

No photos are allowed in The 3rd Tunnel.

Helmets are provided for everyone, and it is compulsory to wear them. It may feel unnecessary at first, but I realised why it was needed when I bumped my head onto the cave the first time.

After the 358 meter descend by the bored pedestrian tunnel by South Korea, the path leads to the junction to The 3rd Tunnel near the termination point. The walk then continues for 265 meters through the actual 3rd Tunnel till The 3rd Blockade which is one of 3 concrete walls South Korea has built to seal off access between South Korea and North Korea via The 3rd Tunnel. The 2nd Blockade can be seen through a small window from The 3rd Blockade, which is the closest you can walk to North Korea from.

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Once that’s done, it’s back to the DMZ Train bus for the journey back to Dorasan station.

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The wires by the side of the road prevent you from entering the land which is filled with land mines.

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Turning into Dorasan station.

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Alighting from the DMZ Train bus.

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The entrance to Dorasan station.

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A last look around Dorasan station before I head into the station building to prepare to leave the DMZ.

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Here, there were some activities in the station which will be continued on my next post as part of the train journey on the DMZ Train 4888 from Dorasan to Yongsan.

Overall, a rather interesting tour of the DMZ with the DMZ Train bus, taking everyone on the sights around Dorasan station in comfort and in good time. This is also one of the cheapest DMZ tours from Seoul as compared with getting a direct tour bus departing from Seoul, though it will not include Imjingang and another further popular tour site of Panmunjom where the Joint Security Area (JSA) is. However, as there is only one tour course with the DMZ Train, I’m not sure if it will do well for repeat visitors.

This tour journey in video is also covered by my DMZ Train Dorasan Security Bus Tour tour guide:

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