15 Interesting Things To Do At Imjingak Park Near The DMZ

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Man standing behind a large Imjingak park sign

Imjingak Park is located near one of the most heavily militarized regions in the world. The park symbolizes the hope of a reunification between North and South Korea. It’s great for all types of travelers because there are numerous monuments, war memorials, green spaces, a museum and even a small amusement park. Visiting Imjingak Park is one of the best things to do if you’re traveling to Seoul for the very first time.

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Imjingak Park near Seoul including pros and cons from our visit.

Our Imjingak Park Experience

Man and woman taking a photograph in front of an old steam locomotive
Mark and Kristen posing for a photo in front of the old train

We visited Imjingak Park on a DMZ Tour in March 2023 as part of a 14 day trip to Seoul, South Korea. On our first full day, we visited the DMZ because it was at the top of our bucket list so it was the first thing we booked. Our tour was one of the most memorable things from this trip.

Imjingak Park is the closest you can get to the DMZ without booking a guided tour and sometimes it will close for security reasons. We highly recommend you read our DMZ tour review after this guide if you’re interested in visiting the DMZ or JSA region near Seoul. There are a few different options depending on what you want to see and our goal is to help you make the most of your time. Read more about us.

What Is Imjingak Park?

White Imjingak park sign showing distance to Seoul and Gaeseong
A sign indicating the distance to Seoul in South Korea and Gaeseong in North Korea

Built in 1972, Imjingak Peace Park was created with the hopes North and South Korea would eventually lean towards unification after the Korean War. It’s located between the two countries along the banks of the Imjin River on the South Korean side about 35 miles north of Seoul.

Originally, Imjingak Park played an important role after the announcement of the Korean Armistice Agreement where 12,773 prisoners of war were exchanged, but it now serves as a leading tourist destination in South Korea with over 6 million annual visitors.

Imjingak Park is a unique attraction because it’s dedicated to the 10 million South Koreans who were separated from their families postwar. The park incorporates museums, monuments, a Unification Park and a North Korea Center to showcase the heartbreak families are still going though now that the war ended.

It can be a little confusing because Imjingak Park has several interchangeable names so you can expect to hear Imjingak Resort, Pyeonghwa Nuri Park or Imjingak Nuri Peace Park all referring to the same area. If you book a DMZ tour, this park will be your first stop. Many of the attractions inside the peace park are free to visit, but a few attractions will include an additional cost. In our guide, we’ll point out which attractions cost an extra fee.

Visitor Information

Map showcasing Imjingak Park on border with North and South Korea
Google map location of Imjingak Park on the border of North and South Korea

Imjingak Park is located 7km (about 4.5 miles) from the Military Demarcation Line which divides North and South Korea. It takes about 1.5- 2.0 hours to get to Imjingak Park from Seoul and you can visit on your own or as part of a tour.

  • Address: 177, Imjingak-ro, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do South Korea
  • Location: Google Maps

Travel Tip: Google maps is unreliable in South Korea because Google does not have access to geographical data in the country. We recommend you download KakaoMap (apple and android) so you can navigate your way through Seoul. We could load our Google Map, but it would never show us our exact location.

Buses and cars parked in the main Imjingak Parking Lot
The large parking lot outside the tourist information center

Most visitors will book a tour to the DMZ, but there are a few other options if you want to only visit Imjingak Park:

  • Book a DMZ Tour with a guide. This is how we visited and most tours will stop at the park before visiting any other part of the DMZ.
  • Take town shuttle bus #058 the daily service and get off at Imjingang bus stop. You can also use ordinary bus #93-3 or express bus #7300, but these options are weekend service only.
  • Take the subway to Imjingang Station (along the Gyeongui-Jungang line).
  • Drive yourself and park in the Imjingak parking lot. Compare prices on Discover Cars or Rental Cars for the best deal if you need to rent a car.

If you choose to drive, there is a large parking lot in front of the Korean Peninsula Ecological Peace Tourism Center and you can park for free.

So without further ado, here are the best things you can do when visiting Imjingak Park:

1. Freedom Bridge

Close up view of Freedom Bridge in the DMZ at Imjingak park
Close up view of the Freedom Bridge at Imjingak

The Freedom Bridge is one of the most popular attractions at Imjingak Park. Built in 1953, this bridge was temporarily built to exchange 12,773 prisoners of war (POWs) when the war had ended. Prisoners crossed the bridge on foot after arriving from the Gyeongui train line by motor vehicles.

  • Cost: Free

The bridge is located behind the Mangbaedan Altar and many of the DMZ tours will make a stop here. Visitors can not cross the Freedom Bridge and it symbolizes the tragedies from the Korean War. The photo above was taken with our zoom lens so it looks closer than what you’ll see during your visit.

 

2. Peace Bell

DMZ Peace Bell at Imjingak park with ornate roof
Stunning red and green Peace Bell

Another great spot in the park is the peace bell. Built in 2000, it symbolizes the hopes of a national reunification including peace for all human beings.

  • Cost: Free

There are a few benches behind the peace bell where we sat with our tour guide to learn about the war. She spoke about what the war meant for the people of Korea and what a unification would mean to her.

Travel Tip: The peace bell has 21 steps and weighs 21 tons to symbolize the 21st century.

3. Old Steam Locomotive

Old Korean War steam locomotive at Jangdan Station on the Gyeongui Line
An old steam locomotive from the Korean War with bullet holes

The steam locomotive at Jangdan Station is located on the old Gyeongui train line which was destroyed by the bombings of the war. It’s interesting because you can still see the bullet holes and it represents the current division of Korea.

  • Cost: Free

Many unification events are held here in Imjingak Park. The locomotive is one of the most popular things to do along the DMZ because tourists can visit without going through security checkpoints. Our tour group also stopped here and our guide was nice enough to take photo of us with the old train.

4. Dokgae Bridge

Entrance to the Dokgae Bridge
Paid entrance to the Dokgae Bridge

This unique attraction showcases the original railroad bridge that was destroyed during the bombings of the Korean War. The Dokgae Bridge measures 105m by 5m and visitors will be able to see a clear view of the Imjin River within the restricted area for civilians.

  • Cost: Additional fee

If you’re interested in walking onto the Dokgae Bridge, you’ll have to pay an extra fee. Depending on the tour you book, this might also be included. We didn’t walk out onto the bridge because we ran out of time.

5. Imjingak Pavilion

Front view of the Imjingak Park Pavilion and observatory
Front view of the Imjingak Pavilion

Imjingak Pavilion was built for refugees right after the Armistice Agreement between North and South Korea. This is a great place to start because you can see what else you might want to do in the peace park.

  • Cost: Free

We recommend you climb to the rooftop observatory for a birds eye view of the entire restricted area. It’s free to do and it gives you a great understanding of the area because you can see everything from above. This would also be a great activity for kids because they have several viewfinders at the top.

6. Mangbardan Altar

Mangbaedan Altar at Imjingak Park in honor of Korean War abductees
Front view of the beautiful Mangbardan Altar

Carved with 7 beautiful stones, the Mangbaedan Altar is where South Koreans who’ve been separated from their families in the north can pay tribute to loved ones. We think the altar is one of the most important things to see in the park because it comforts millions of South Korean people every year.

  • Cost: Free

But it’s a sad reminder of how families are still missing their loves ones from North Korea. Our tour guide told us a few stories in front of the altar and they were all heartbreaking.

Travel Tip: On both Seollal (New Year’s Day) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), families gather here for memorial services to be as close to their hometowns and families as possible.

7. National Memorial For Abductees

Woman reading an exhibit in the National Memorial for Abductees during the Korean War
Kristen reading an exhibit inside the National Memorial For Abductees

If you have extra time, the National Memorial for Abductees during the Korean War is well worth your effort. However, you may need a few minutes after the museum to compose yourself because what you’ll learn about is very upsetting.

  • Cost: Free

This museum contains some of the best information we’ve seen about the history of South Korean citizens being abducted by North Korea. On June 25th, 1950 at 4:00 am with no declaration, North Korea crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea marking the first aggression of the Korean War.

During this invasion, North Korea implemented plans to abduct South Koreans. It’s estimated about 100,000 South Korean civilians were abducted during the war. Despite continued efforts by the South Korean government to repatriate the abductees, many of them have not returned from North Korea causing immense pain and suffering for their families back home.

Travel Tip: Many of the exhibits in the museum are in Korean, but there are English translations scattered through each one. You can also use Google Translate to read the Korean text.

8. BEAT 131

Woman walking near the exhibition hall for the Underground Military Bunker
Kristen walking past the BEAT 131 underground exhibit

BEAT 131 is a cool attraction because it allows visitors to explore an underground military bunker. Inside, you’ll step into an intelligence room and see a video experience exhibition hall.

  • Cost: Additional fee

This underground bunker showcases military goods and offers a hand-on experience of media as well as additional video footage of the DMZ. However, the BEAT 131 bunker will cost an extra fee to enter.

9. Imjingak Peace Gondola

Two cable cars along the Imjingak Peace Gondola
Imjingak peace gondola with cable cars traveling over the CCZ

The peace gondola at Imjingak Park is the world’s only gondola that travels through a Civilian Controlled Zone (CCZ) so this is your chance to ride a cable car through the DMZ. The gondola is 1.7 kms (1.0 mile) long traveling between the Imjingak Station and DMZ Station over the Imjin River.

  • Cost: Adults 11,000 KRW + 9,000 KRW for the general cabin

To ride the gondola, you’ll also have to pay an additional fee, but if you’ve booked a DMZ tour it might be included or you can receive a discounted rate by showing your tour ticket. You’ll find the gondola in the back of the large Imjingak Tourist Information Center. Here are the shops and restaurants at each station:

Imjingak Station (parking lot of Imjingak Park):

  • Paju Agricultural Specialities Marker
  • GS25 Convenience Store
  • Ticket Office
  • Cafe 9977
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • PICSOLVE Photo Service
  • Provence Bakery

The DMZ Station (upper platform of Camp Greaves):

  • Rooftop Observatory
  • Cafe Forbidden Place
  • DMZ Gift Shop
  • Outdoor Trail (to Imkingang Observatory)
  • Gallery Greaves
  • Camp Greaves (sometimes closed)

On the north side, you can visit the Peace Lighthouse, the Dobo Bridge, Pyeonghwajeong Pavilion and the No Border Crossing sign. If you want to book a DMZ tour with a Gondola ride, you can book it on Get Your Guide or Viator.

10. Buy North Korean Currency

Woman purchasing North Korean Currency at Imjingak Park near the DMZ
Kristen purchasing a few notes of North Korean currency

If you like to collect money, don’t miss your chance to buy currency from North Korea. You can find the money stand from our photo above located just past Imjingak Pavilion.

  • Cost: Varies

When we visited, you could purchase both old and new notes. Honestly, it was a little overpriced but you probably won’t get the chance to buy North Korean currency again.

11. Ground For New Millennium

This sculpture won’t take much of your time, but it’s meant to have a big impact. The Ground For New Millennium is made of both an upper and lower portion which are meant to represent different ideas. You can find it right next to the National Memorial for Abductees.

  • Cost: Free

The lower portion of the statue symbolizes the past while the upper portion symbolizes the future. This monument was built in hopes of world peace and democratic reunification.

12. Pyeonghwa Land

Pirate ship and train at Imjingak Park
The Pirate Ship inside Pyeonghwa Land

If you’re traveling with kids to Imjingak Park, take them to the small amusement park! This one took us by surprise because an amusement park was the last thing we expected near the DMZ. But Pyeonghwa Land has a pirate ship, swings, bumper cars, a carousel and ridable train.

  • Cost: Varies

The amusement park is located adjacent to the main parking lot and it’s hard to miss. If you’re short on time, we would recommend skipping the amusement park.

13. Fuel Up With Local Food

Local food stalls serving Korean food at Imjingak Park
Local food stalls selling Korean food options

All of these activities on our list will certainly help you work up an appetite. So if you’re looking for food, there are numerous stalls selling dumplings, noodles and fried options on the ground floor of the tourism center. This was the cheapest option for dining in the park. We tried the corn dog and the sausage rice cake to fuel up with a quick snack before our DMZ tour.

But if you want to have a sit down meal, there are restaurants on the second floor of the tourism center including both local and international options. Don’t miss the robot delivering meals to customers!

White round robot delivering meals to customers at Imjingak Park
Very cool robot serving meals to visitors

For those who love Dunkin’ Donuts, you’ll find a small Dunks on the second floor of Imjingak Station. We couldn’t resist stopping by for a donut…

Woman purchasing two donuts at Dunkin donuts
Kristen treating herself to a good old fashioned Dunkin’ Donut

14. Korean Peninsula Ecological Peace Tourism Center

The tourism center is where your tour guide will pick up your tickets for the DMZ. You’ll also find food and restrooms located inside the building. In the morning, this building can be extremely crowded because all the tour guides have to wait in line to secure tickets for their group here.

But if you climb to the second story, you’ll find a lounge area with a few picnic benches. Another highlight is the Imjingak Riverside Culture & Eco Trail (9.1km) which begins nearby.

15. Enjoy The Green Space

Parking lot with Monuments for Unification in the distance
The gardens at Imjingak Park on a hazy day in early spring

On the other side of park, there is a very large open space filled with walking trails and sculptures. Because we spent so much time inside the museum, we ran out of time to fully explore this section. But here are a few of the things you can see:

  • Candlelight Pavilion
  • Hill of Music
  • Hill of Wind
  • DMZ Ecotourism Support center
  • Cafe Annyeong

We had a 12:00 tour for the DMZ so we only had a few hours to wander around Imjingak Park. But you could easily spend a whole day in the park if your South Korea itinerary allowed.

Travel Tip: The 3rd Tunnel, Dora Observatory and the Joint Security Area (JSA) are not located in Imjingak Park. You’ll need to book a DMZ tour to visit those specific areas.

The Morgan Conclusion

American and South Korean Memorial at Imjingak Park
American and South Korean War Memorial

Imjingak park is the closest visitors can get to the DMZ without booking a guided tour. It’s a popular spot for tourists and locals alike because it’s showcases South Korean history in a way you won’t see anywhere else.

So is Imjingak Park worth visiting?

Yes, Imjingak Park is worth visiting and it’s one of the most memorable experiences we had from our trip. The DMZ is one of the most notorious and heavily protected strips of land in the world and a visit to Imjingak Park is one of the best ways to understand the current situation.

Here is what we liked and didn’t like about the park:

Pros

  • Can visit on your own or as part of a tour
  • There are many things to see and do inside the park
  • One of the best ways to understand Korean history
  • Both free and paid activites

Cons

  • Can be an extremely harrowing experience
  • Will take up a significant amount of time
  • Limited amount of English in certain exhibits
  • Crowds can be large depending on the time of day

While you can visit Imjingak Park on your own, we highly recommend you book a tour because it’s a great place to see how the unification of Korea would affect people all around the world. Not only was our tour guide fantastic, but we learned so much from the exhibits.

>> Here is the DMZ tour we booked

In all honesty, it was very sad walking around the park learning about what took place here, but it’s important for visitors to learn about the history of the Korean War. We think the best things to do at Imjingak Park are to buy your very own North Korean currency, visit the National Memorial for Abductees, see the Freedom Bridge and ride the gondola. Imjingak Park can feel a little bit like a tourist trap, but if you avoid the paid attractions, it’s worth your time.

Our Imjingak Park Photos

We enjoyed our time at the park and took many photos. Here are a few of our favorites so you know exactly what to expect:

Person walking through doorway at Imjingak Park
Kristen exploring a walking trail
South Korean War Monument at Imjingak Park
South Korean War Memorial
Visitors exploring a section of Imjingak Park
Our tour group at the old steam locomotive
Four memprative stamps at Imjingak Park for visitors
Stamps are available so you can create memories for loved ones
Stone staircase leaving to Imjingak Pavilion
Stone staircase leading up to Imjingak Pavilion
Rideable black and red train in South Korea
Train rides are available for families
A section of the Gyeongui Line in South Korea
A section of the Gyeongui Line destroyed by the Korean War
Many colorful ribbons tied to a barbed wire fence to honog abductions from the Korean War
Colorful ribbons filled with hopes and dreams tied on a barbwire fence
Miari-gogae Monument honoring Korean War abductees
Miari-gogae Monument to honor Korean War abductees
Four large exhibits showcasing Korean War photos
Old photographs from the Korean War
Red and yellow cable car along the Imjingak peace Gondola
Red and yellow cable car traveling over the Civilian Control Zone (CCZ)
Freedom Bridge at Imjingak park designated by Gyeonggi-do
The Freedom Bridge at Imjingak Park
Front view of an old Korean War Steam Locomotive
Close up view of the Steam Locomotive with bullet holes
Tower viewers on the top of Imjingak Pavilion
Tower Viewers overlooking the DMZ from Imjingak Pavilion

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We hope this guide featuring the best things to do at Imjingak Park helps with planning your visit to Seoul, South Korea!

Please let us know if you have any questions about visiting the park or touring the DMZ in the comments below.

Happy Travels,

Mark and Kristen

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2 thoughts on “15 Interesting Things To Do At Imjingak Park Near The DMZ”

  1. Many thanks for the detailed information. Is it possible to visit a tour directly from Imjingak Park or do all tours start in Seoul?
    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Julia, the easiest way to book a DMZ tour is with a reputable company and all of the tours we saw at Imjingak Park originated in Seoul. Your best bet would be to contact that particular tour company to ask if you can begin at Imjingak Park. Tour group operators must queue for DMZ tickets once they arrive at Imjingak Park because these tickets are currently distributed on a first come first serve basis. Many tour groups arrive early to make sure they secure tickets for their group so it might be very difficult for you to find a tour at Imjingak Park for this reason. If you are able to get tickets at Imjingak Park, would you please let us know because others may have the same question? 🙂 Thank you and have a great trip!

      Reply

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