I actually traveled to ICN
in January 2002 to visit my brother who was stationed there as a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot. I took a DL MD
-11 from ATL
and then ID90'd on UA
, first flight on a 744.
Seoul was a nice, yet cold, place to visit in January. It was quite amazing to see so many people squeezed into one city. Everyone has a car, but it seems they mostly rely on public transportation, such as the subway, as if you drive anywhere, you won't find any parking. Many places, people just park their cars and leave them in neutral, so if you are blocking someone, they just push your car out of the way. There was a place called the Bagman, where you can get a variety of very nice luggage pieces at rock bottom prices, and you can even have them embroidered with your name if you like. The guy had airline pilot business cards all over the door. UPS, FedEx, Flying Tiger, Atlas, UA
, cards from pilots practically all over the world. It was amazing just looking at all these cards, they literally covered the entire doorway.
While there, I took a trip down to Osan for the day, and was lucky enough to see a U-2 spyplane take off. While impressive, no matter which way you look at it, its quite a sight to see this bird, with her huge wingspan, to lift off, and pull almost into vertical flight and just start climbing until out of sight.
Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to take the military tour up to the DMZ as it was full, but I did see many pictures my brother took on his tours. The guards surrounding the building there on the S. Korean side stand with only half of their bodies facing NK
. The rest is hidden behind the building. This is so they can keep an eye on NK
, but make a smaller target by remaining partially hidden.
There are guard towers on both sides of the DMZ facing towards the Camp at all times, both North and South Korean. Basically, at any time you have the gun of the other army pointed right at you and you never know if they will shoot. I was also shown photos of the helipad, where VIPs are taken for negotiations and such. Where the helipad is located, U.S. choppers have to fly just inside NK
for an easier approach. So, to avoid being shot down by crossing into enemy airspace by the North Koreans, the US Army has painted some green Blackhawks with bright yellow stripes laterally down the sides. This zebra of a helicopter is to signify to NK
that this aircraft is on a mission to the camp and is not to be fired upon. Upon landing though, one crewmember is always to be watching the North Koreans, just in case they come under fire and must take evasive action. It was pretty awesome to hear.
In Seoul, there is also the Korean War Museum, I believe. It holds relics from both US and North Korean/Soviet sides, and is a nice visit.
While in Seoul, I found an aviation store that sold aviation artifacts. They had choice after choice of pilot wings, signs, banners, basically anything that had to do with aviation, they had it.
One interesting thing was that inside the city, on every corner, it seemed, there were riot police in uniform and holding assault weapons. Just standing guard. Now, to us in the U.S., I passed by with a cautious eye, as it isn't something we see every day. But to the Koreans, they just walked by without even a thought, which made me also realize that although we may not allow our young children to walk freely along the streets in fear of predators, its not uncommon for a young child to be walking along with no fear or apprehension with cops on every corner. Definately a place to visit and I do intend to visit again at some point.
I don't have a microwave, but I do have a clock that occasionally cooks shit.