North Korean Tunnels Under Seoul?

12 08 2009

The scariest part of the DMZ trip was at the end when we entered a tunnel that had been blasted underground from North Korea all the way to Seoul. It was a long walk through the tunnel, hunched over, until we came to the steel door that had been installed to block off access. According to the guide, North Korea said the tunnels were for coal mining. Okay, say that’s true. How come they came all the way into South Korea to Seoul? If you’re digging or blasting underground to remove coal, or anything else for that matter, do you have the right to go beyond your country’s borders? It wouldn’t seem so. Technically, anything underground should belong to the country above it, right?

So, that leads to an even bigger question: Why were there four tunnels that just happen to run from North Korea to two major cities in South Korea? Hmmm… And according to the video we saw, the South Koreans believe there may be as many as 10 undiscovered tunnels. Pretty scary thought! I’m picturing the land under South Korea riddled with underground tunnels. My writer’s brain went crazy with possible scenarios. Could the weight of the city cause it all to collapse if too many tunnels are dug? What if some of the tunnels come to the surface inside houses or buildings, and the North Koreans are infiltrating the country without the South Koreans being aware of it? What if they set off huge explosive devices inside all of them at the same time? If I were into warfare novels, I’d have lots of ideas for plotlines.

The tunnel we went into was discovered in 1991, when people in the area complained of strange noises. Holes were bored in the area and filled with water. An underground explosion shot water into the air. Later the remaining water trickled down into the hole that had been made below it, so these tunnels have been made long after the cease fire. Another reminder that the two countries are still technically at war.

BTW, no pictures allowed. They made us leave our cameras on the military bus, but I scoured the web & found this so you can see what it looks like:

The only thing you can’t see is the steep descent into the tunnel.  I wasn’t the only one sweating in my yellow hard hat. The worst was yet to come. After going down, slogging all the way through the tunnel, stooped over, you had to make it back up the steep incline. Sure were a lot of people resting along the side, gasping for breath, claiming they had allergies or heart trouble. Was I one of them? All I can say is: I’m glad they didn’t allow cameras.