Even though I have technically been to South Korea, I am not including it on my list of visited countries.
At the time of writing , I’ve been to 67 countries. However, if I wanted to inflate the numbers, I could add South Korea to the list.
After all, I have technically been there. I just didn’t realize it at the time.
My Very Short Visit to South Korea
I haven’t spent time in South Korea, but years ago, I went on a 4-day guided tour of North Korea. That tour included a day trip to the DMZ, the heavily guarded demilitarized zone between the two countries.
During our visit to the demilitarized zone, we also had a chance to visit the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the border. This zone consists of blue buildings built right on top of the borderline. Meetings between the countries are held in a room that’s divided by the border in the middle.
One end of the room is in North Korea, the other one in South Korea. As I had a chance to walk around the room, I could say that I crossed the border to South Korea.
However, I had missed what our North Korean guide had told at that point, so I didn’t really know what the room was. I only heard afterwards that we had been to South Korea.
More Details from the DMZ Tour
I was part of a group of Western tour to North Korea. North Korea is more popular with Chinese tourists, and as we were visiting the DMZ, our group was joined by a Chinese tourist group of the same size.
Together, we were taken to the room where peace negotiations of the Korean war had been held. Us Westerners were guided to sit and stand on one side of the negotiation table, the Chinese groups on the other.
Our tour guide then revealed that we were sitting on the side of the South Korean and US Army representatives. The Chinese and North Korean delegates had been on the other side of the table. Our guide spoke English, taking turns with the guide of the Chinese group who spoke Chinese.
There was nothing remarkable about the story we were told, but when the other guide repeated the information in Chinese, his group broke into laughter.
One of the members of our entourage spoke some Chinese, and he later explained what the laughter had been about. While we were told we were on the side of South Korea and the US, the Chinese guide had pointed in our direction and said:
“That’s where the Capitalist pigs were sitting.”