After two and a half years here I've finally made it up to the Demilitarized Zone, north of Seoul. Because there's without doubt a thousand other accounts already floating around online about the layout of the tour, I'll suffice to give a fairly brief account here.
We started at the USO in Seoul (USO, as explained by one of my American traveling companions, being the organization for morale boosting/recreational activities for the U.S. military). There we boarded a bus and met our Korean-American tour guide, Brandon. Brandon gave us the basic rundown on the DMZ during the hour long ride towards it.
Because our tour, unlike many of them, was going to include the JSA (Joint Security Area/Panmunjom), the dress code was fairly strict. Even though it was hot there was to be no shoulders shown or shorts higher than the knees, though pants were preferred.
We entered the DMZ and the bus wove between a series of strategically placed barriers of either side of the road, presumably designed to cause traffic to go slow and be rolled back into place if need be. When we reached the entrance to the JSA, Brandon announced that a U.S. soldier would take over for that portion of the tour and that we should do everything he said. The man who came to tell us to board a different bus for the ride into the JSA, bringing our cameras but absolutely no bags, had a firearm holstered at his side, reflective sunglasses, and a demeanor that suggested immediate reprimanding should we mess up. That's when this tour got real.