While this area was part of North Korea from 1945–53, today this building is the closest most South Koreans can get to glimpsing that world. There are binoculars (₩500 for two minutes) installed on the viewing deck, and inside the observatory is a large map labelled (in Korean only) with mountain names and the locations of military installations (red text for North Korea, white text for South Korea). Kiosks here sell liquor, cash, postage stamps and other souvenirs from North Korea.
On a clear day, you can get a good view of Kumgang-san, about 20km to the west. The North-bound highway and railroad fell quiet after South Korea suspended Kumgang-san tours in July 2008, when a South Korean tourist was shot by North Korea.
Despite the solemnity of the place, the parking lot is cluttered with souvenir shops and restaurants. On the other side of the lot is the Korean War Exhibition Hall, which provides something of a primer on the war.