Say ‘DMZ’ (Demilitarized Zone) and most people think of Panmunjeom. But the little-touristed town of Cheorwon (철원), 85km northeast of Seoul, presents a more haunting version. Under North Korea’s control from 1945, it saw fierce fighting during the Korean War and was built anew after the war, as part of South Korea. But even today it abounds with army trucks and military checkpoints. It’s one way to see the DMZ without paying an exorbitant fee and being hustled onto coaches.
Most of the war sites lie within the Civilian Control Zone that spans 20km from the border, so visitors must present identification and register with the Hantan-gang Tourism Office at the Iron Triangle Memorial Hall (철의 삼각 전적관) for an official 2½-hour tour. Bring your passport.