Saturday's tour of Panmunjeom was surreal enough. But even before we got to the Joint Security Area, we stopped at Peace Land:
The clash of civilisations was never better dramatised than at Peace Land, in Imjingak, on the 38th Parallel. Here, the starving people of the world's nastiest dictatorship can look across the border at capitalism quite literally putting on a funfair. For the Southerners, of course, the North Koreans are the principal attraction.
Right alongside the Pirate Ship, the Wriggly Worm and all the other fantasy rides run the perfectly real electrified fences and watchtowers of the border. The organisers of the theme park provide special viewing platforms and free telescopes for visitors. A key attraction is a bombed-out steam locomotive, still standing on its original tracks in front of a blown-up railway bridge across the River Imjin marking the frontier.
In fact, this bombed-out locomotive:
And that blown-up railway bridge:
See that barbed wire? Understand, that's not part of the theme park. Those are a real, live, deadly anti-personnel defenses that the theme park incorporated into its exhibits.
This theme park, to say the least, confused me. So I asked our tour guide why they have a fun fair within sniper distance of North Korea. She said that when relations with North Korea improved in the 1990s and early 2000s, people would meet their North Korean families nearby, so they'd bring their children to Imjingak for a few days. So, in the midst of this reminder that the Korean War has never really ended, they built a bunch of rides the kids can enjoy.
This is one more piece of data in figuring out Seoul. Yesterday I got a lot more, which I'll lay out in a few minutes.