Incheon, South Korea

Day 35 & 36 – Saturday & Sunday February 18 & 19, 2017

We learned at dinner on Friday that our stop at Jeju City had been cancelled. This cancellation was unlike the cancellation of the port of Saipan. In Saipan there were high winds and waves which made the entry into the bay dangerous as well as a very difficult docking. In Jeju the best we could understand from the ambitious report given, was that our docking pier had been changed and the newly assigned pier would involve a single gangway at a steep angle and then some concrete steps to negotiate. Basically, it was too difficult for the passengers of the Amsterdam. I have absolutely no doubt that it was too difficult for many of the passengers, but those of us who were perfectly capable of negotiating the exit must suffer as well. We only have 10 ports of call on this segment outside of the originating and destination ports. Missing 2 ports means we lost 20% of our ports of call! The consolation was that we get to spend two full days in Incheon with 20 to 30 degree temperatures instead of the supposedly beautiful Jeju Island with its more temperate climate. I am not a happy cruiser.

The first day we already had a trip planned to the DMZ to go into the 3rd tunnel beneath the zone which the North Koreans made in an attempt to invade South Korea. This was a 7+ hour tour with lunch. With nothing planned for the second day, we very briefly thought about making the one hour train trip into Seoul. This was quickly decided against. We learned from one of our dinning stewards who had made the trip on Saturday, that there were massive protests in the streets against the Prime Minister. Instead we took the provided shuttle into Incheon to the Senpo International Market (which we briefly visited on the first day). I have included a lot of photos but not much commentary.

Incheon was home to just 4,700 people when it became an international port in 1883. Today, about 3 million people live in the city, making it Korea’s third most populous city after Seoul and Busan. The city’s growth has been assured in modern times with the development of its port due to its natural advantages as a coastal city and its proximity to the South Korean capital. It is part of the Seoul Capital Area, along with Seoul itself and Gyeonggi Province, forming the world’s second largest metropolitan area by population.

Daybreak as we arrived in Incheon port.

Military checkpoint as we entered the DMZ. We had to show passports both on entry and exit.

We could not forget the dangers the people of South Korea live under.

An interesting exhibit at the area where we were to enter the tunnel.

The following description of the 3rd Tunnel is from Wikipedia.

Only 44 km (27 miles) from Seoul, the incomplete tunnel was discovered in October 1978 following the detection of an underground explosion in June 1978, apparently caused by the tunnellers who had progressed 435 meters (1,427 feet) under the south side of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). It took four months to locate the tunnel precisely and dig an intercept tunnel.

The incomplete tunnel is 1,635 meters (1.0 mile) long, of 1.95 m (6 ft 5 in) maximum high and 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in) wide. It runs through bedrock at a depth of about 73 m (240 ft) below ground. It was apparently designed for a surprise attack on Seoul from North Korea, and could accommodate 30,000 men per hour along with light weaponry. Upon discovery of the third tunnel, the United Nations Command accused North Korea of threatening the 1953 armistice agreement signed at the end of the Korean War. Its description as a "tunnel of aggression" was given by the South, who considered it an act of aggression on the part of the North.

Initially, North Korea denied building the tunnel. North Korea then declared it part of a coal mine, the tunnel having been blackened by construction explosions.[2] Signs in the tunnel claim that there is no geological likelihood of coal being in the area. The walls of the tunnel where tourists are taken are observably granite, a stone of igneous origin, whereas coal would be found in stone of sedimentary origin.

A total of four tunnels have been discovered so far, but there are believed to be up to twenty more. The South Korean military still devotes specialist resources to finding infiltration tunnels, though tunnels are much less significant now that North Korean long-range artillery and missiles have become more effective.

Entrance to the visitor access tunnel

The tunnel, generally called the Third Infiltration Tunnel or 3rd Tunnel, is now a tourist site, though still well guarded. Visitors enter either by walking down a long steep incline that starts in a lobby with a gift shop or via a sled on rails that contains a driver at the front or the back (depending on the direction as there is only one set of rails) and padded seats facing forward and backwards for passengers in up to groups of three. Photos are forbidden within the tunnel. The South Koreans have blocked the actual Military Demarcation Line in the tunnel with three concrete barricades. Tourists can walk as far as the third barricade, and the second barricade is visible through a small window in the third.

We had to don hard hats to make the 300 meter ride to 75 meters underground through the access tunnel to reach Tunnel #3 of the Demilitarized Zone. Unfortunately, the army does not allow any photography inside the tunnel.

A view of North Korea from an observation point on the edge of the DMZ. Our guide noted that there were not any trees in North Korea because they had been cut for fire wood.

The start of the DMZ can easily be seen looking from the observation point.

Observation guard post were located all along the DMZ.

We had a “typical” Korean meal. Personally I preferred the Japanese food, but many liked the Korean better.

The middle dish is kimchi. The Korean people absolutely love this dish of fermented cabbage. I found it ok, but I really believe this is something you have to develop a taste for.

For miles and miles the razor wire fence could be seen. The river flows from South Korea into North Korea and then back into South Korea. The river is fenced and has guard houses every few hundred meters to ensure that no one uses the river. It is quite odd, anywhere else in the world a river this large would be alive with activity.

After lunch we returned to Incheon and visited the Sanpon International Market. It was quite fascinating. Here the locals come to pick up their dinner, purchase fresh fruits and fresh and dried fish as well as clothing.

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Here you could purchase live eels, fish and even turtles for you evening meal.

Spice anyone?

Beautiful flowers were also available. These were grown in local greenhouses.

More dried fish.

… or how about some candy.

A nice arrangement of fish.

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Fresh vegetables…

We found this 3-pak of soft drinks. I am not sure what a Pocari Sweat is.

A typical view down a street in Incheon.

We met this young man out for a Sunday stroll with his dog. When I asked if I could take his photo, he struck this very solemn pose.

We came back to the Sanpon Market on Sunday Morning and it was much quieter.

I can’t imagen a much worse job than cleaning fish in 35 degree weather, all day long…

At the local MacDonald’s, these Mac Delivery scooters were parked to distribute Big Mac’s all over the city.

We had to take a bathroom break and went into the subway to use the facilities. To our surprise the restrooms were spotless. Even a larger surprise was the underground mall which stretched for about a mile with booth which sold everything, but cell phone booths were about every 20 feet.

Need a pair of shoes?

Janet tried on a pair of “fashion” glasses. An entire store was full of these glasses which had clear lenses. Carl said Janet looked like Mrs. McGoo. Janet told me it was ok to post this on the blog…

We are leaving at midnight, sailing for China.

Until then,

Jal-jumuseo (good-night)

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