Ganghwa Peace Observatory
A truly grand experience, although one that left me feeling sorer than it did rejuvenated, is the Ganghwa Peace Observatory located at the tip of Ganghwa Island. I visited this amazing location with Hana Tour ITC, a leading tour company in Korea that I highly recommend! Check out more information about my trip with them here.
The DMZ is one of the most contentious borders in the world that stretches across the entire width of North and South Korea. The most popular way to reach this area is Paju (파주), another city just an hour outside of Seoul. However, the Paju route is the most populated as well, and one that’s flooding with tourists and natives alike all year round.
If you’re longing for a more reflective opportunity, I couldn’t recommend anywhere more than Ganghwa Island. Located at the western tip of the island, this small pavilion is home to a three-story tower. Inside is an observation deck, the Reflection Aspiration Hall, a lounge, and a restaurant serving North Korean delicacies. You can attend a 20-minute lecture in both Korean and English. For a full schedule, check their website, and inform your guide that you would like to stay and listen.
It’s worth 500 won to use binoculars on the observation deck (not supplied by Hana Tour ITC). North Korea is incredibly close to Ganghwa Island, with only a thin stretch of the Han River blocking the warring countries. I was able to see several North Korean farmers working in their fields, a young boy walking his bike, and several people running out the door before dinner time.
How can I explain how it felt to look into this private life? I have North Korean refugee friends and connections, all of whom I have so graciously shared their hardships and successes with me. Some of them are in the public eye while others are not, but I know that many of them miss aspects of their former life. Not the regime, but rather their hometowns, families, music, farms…
Watching life in North Korea simply pass before my eyes really put the situation into perspective. This is real. And it’s happening now.
Address: 인천 강화군 양사면 천산리 산6-1| 6-1 Cheolsan-ri Yangsa-myeon Ganghwa-gun Incheon
Entrance Fee: Adults 2500, Kids 1700
Opening Hours: 9AM-6PM