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[Travel Bits] Festivals, sights around Korea

This year’s annual Goseong Lavender Festival will feature a variety of programs, from exhibitions to performances, including a lavender photo exhibit, a photo contest at the farm and the village, a classical music concert and a lucky draw. The event is open to visitors of all ages, free of charge, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call the travel hotline at 1330 for information in Korean, English, Japanese or Chinese. The website ( is only in Korean. The cultural theme park of the Korean Folk Village hosts the “Welcome to Joseon” Variety Festival each spring. Programs include parades and performances as well as hands-on activities and cast members wandering freely throughout the park to interact with visitors. Travel in time back to the Joseon era with the characters putting up an interesting comedy act. The event is open to visitors of all ages, and the duration of the performances varies by program. It is held from 9: 30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., until June 24.

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Photos from the Border of North Korea and China

My driver was extremely paranoid here, there were security cameras everywhere, and I received extremely suspicious looks from locals as [an] outsider,” Hurwitz, a documentary photographer based in Los Angeles, said. “It was the only place where I felt the need to hide my camera while taking pictures near the border. There were police checkpoints where they stopped our vehicle.” Indeed, until the last month, when Kim Jung Un made a second surprise visit to Beijing, relations between the two countries have been increasingly tense. “The Yalu River is one of two rivers that form the border between North Korea and China. The Yalu is wider than Tumen, which is north and east," explained Tim Peters , a Christian activist whose work includes evacuating North Korean defectors from northeast China. "In a way, in particular in the winter, it is a no man’s land, giving the opportunity [to those] who wish to make an exodus [into China].” Peters, as well as other activists and journalists, have noticed the growing security presence on China’s part over the past 18 months. “This river, especially over the last year, and access to it by non-residents, is increasingly difficult ... due to the militarization on the Chinese side,” he added. Across the river, in plain sight, North Korean life remains dramatically different and halted: there is no escaping the poverty, desperation and lack of basic necessities. Just as the Chinese tourists gaze upon North Korea from boats, the citizens of Hyesan are likewise used to seeing Chinese tourists across the river.

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