The silence was broken by a whirring sound close behind me. A military security camera was locking onto me. I quickly put my camera away, but it was too late: an armed soldier was walking down an embankment towards me.
A couple hours earlier I had started my walk along part of the 11½ mile Seoul City Wall.
After a couple hours I reached a sign warning that I was approaching a military area.
In 1969 this part of the wall was infiltrated by North Korean commandos who mounted an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the South Korean president.
This area is seen as especially vulnerable to North Korean aggression. To enter this area I had to fill out a form, show my passport, and wear an ID.
Except when signs indicated otherwise, photography was allowed. Judging by the signs, I could see the authorities were particularly concerned about picture-taking towards downtown Seoul.
|Looking north from military area.|
I didn't see any warning signs, so I just had to take photos.
That was when I heard the whirring sound of the security camera. The soldier walked up to me and politely indicated photography was not allowed here. He patiently stood over me as I deleted the offending photos one by one. At no point did I feel threatened, but I certainly felt in the wrong.
We amicably parted ways. Although I could, later restore the deleted photos, I decided there would be no reason to do that.
At the far end of the military area I handed in the ID, and kept walking until heavy rain brought my hike to an end.
|Beyond the military area.|