Grayer on the Other Side

A tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between North and South Korea was fitting for Saturday’s dreary weather. This area is designated as part of neither country, where representatives of each can discuss matters in peace. Most of the tour was based around the solemnness of the separation and the fervent hopes for reunification. I was surprised to learn that South Koreans are relatively unanimous on their desire for unification with North Korea. From asking around, most people are in favor even if they don’t believe that either nation is ready.

This supposed lack of readiness is most evidenced to me by each side’s slander of the opposite. During the tour, we descended into an underground tunnel supposedly built by North Korea with intentions to invade South Korea post peace treaty. The tour guide told us that tourists in North Korea are told that this tunnel was built by Americans as a tourist magnet and that North Korea never tried to invade after the Korean war. Similarly, we were told that the prosperous-looking North Korean city visible from the observatory deck is propagandistic and fake. There is no way to know the truth! As an American, I’m obviously inclined to side with South Korea, but the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.

These morning activities made the night’s visit to Hangang Park for a light show and street performers especially poignant. As we watched children dancing to K-Pop together and water spouting off Banpo Bridge lit up in rainbow lights, I couldn’t help but recall the stories of families permanently separated by some members having the opportunity to be refugees and others not. There likely was someone in the park who will never see his mom again whose mom will never see anything like this. I sincerely hope that the other side is not as gray as this side makes it seem, because this side seems like a rainbow to me.