I first heard about KorUE Tours after their last event, in which they packed a luxury bus past capacity with something like 70 people, then drove all across the peninsula causing trouble.
They are currently advertising for their next event, set to take place across four days with stops planned at 23 locations, including a daytrip to Nagasaki in Japan! It turns out that KorUE Tours is masterminded by Jon Dunbar, a divorced Canadian who works for the Korean government, yet in his spare time runs tours to these shameful places under banners like KorUE Tours and the very negative-sounding Daehanmindecline Productions. He claims that the name Daehanmindecline comes from the fact his page was once hosted on a site called Indecline, how convenient.
It's clear from those 23 sites that he doesn't know what he's doing. Of all 23, seven are definitely long since removed, three aren't abandoned, and some are just totally impossible.
-The active subway tunnel they hope to visit is identified as Line 1 under Yongsan, despite the fact that that stretch of tracks is aboveground. What's more, the pictures bear more resemblance to Freedom Tunnel in New York.
-I am unaware of any large sections of abandonment in Bukchon Hanok Village.
-Pimatgol is removed except for one small stretch. There is NO WAY a luxury bus will fit down any part of that narrow alley.
-Dan Kook University campus was demolished years ago.
-Yongma Land is no longer accommodating to large groups, ever since the Expedition Korea photowalk in January which ended with the police arriving.
-They intend to climb a crane in groups of ten at a time. Do you have any idea how dangerously stupid that is? Anyone who comes along on this tour is clearly tempting Darwin.
-The underground tunnel from Cheong Wa Dae to Gwacheon would certainly have the security measures to stop a large group of intruders, let alone a full-sized bus. During such a time when inter-Korean tensions are high, this is highly risky.
-The picture for the Cheorwon Communist Party Headquarters doesn't look anything like the real building; instead, his pictures credited to Darmon Richter appear more like the Bulgarian Communist Party Headquarters.
v-4th Tunnel? The tunnel in Cheorwon County is the 2nd, unless a new one's been discovered. Plus, this is a tourist site, open to anyone.
-Abandoned skyscrapers in Songdo?
-Cross picket lines at a Ssangyong car factory? No thanks.
-Yangyang International Airport is functioning, even if it's not at peak capacity.
-The expo grounds in Yeosu are closed except for the aquarium, but there will hardly be anything else to see. One helpful lurker pointed out that the image of this place uploaded is clearly photoshopped.
-Sneak onto an active military base? Death wish much?
-From Geoje Island to Nagasaki and back up to Seoul in one day? Not likely.
When confronted about these discrepancies, Joseph Chung responded: "I don't know what you're talking about. I've personally vetted all these locations!"
That's right you don't know what we're talking about, Mr Chung.
This trip reeks of incompetence from the logistics (from Yangyang all the way to Yeosu all in one day, with numerous detours along the way) all the way to their dubious ethics. Some members even talk about hunting humans for sport in abandoned areas. They introduce "The Low Impact Pledge" on their site, a shameful attempt at responsible behaviour. The rules include:
-Always make noise so wildlife and squatters know when you're entering their territory.
-Limit only one souvenir per person per location.
-Only break things in self defence.
-You have the right to be there, so don't take no guff from others in the area.
That first point seems to acknowledge that this is an intrusion, yet they even talk about bringing air rifles along to "ward off" security guards and police officers.
I don't know how they expect to have a low impact considering they're travelling around in a bus with a sign on the side clearly reading "Abandoned Korea Super Tour!" which will be parked directly in front of the sites they're visiting. The audacity is dizzying.
Travelling around in a luxury bus, provided by "Pierrot Motors," turns this into a complete facade, a type of poverty tourism akin to the "A Day in the D" tours being offered in Detroit.
"Finally! Urban Exploration with comfort in mind!" wrote one very lazy attendee who RSVPed she'll be going.
"I'm not sure how I feel about interacting with poor people," wrote one attendee. "I mean, I want to see how they live and take pictures of them that I'll publish and sell, but I don't want them talking to me, you know?"
Dunbar wrote himself, "24 are coming so far. This is a great number. 50 would be perfect for a tour like this. Hope to see you all!"
No, actually the perfect number for busting open all these locations is zero. Maybe one or two or a very small group at a time, but taking this many people at once to sensitive locations is treating them with all the dignity ascribed to a clown car.
You should be ashamed if you're going on this tour, or another one just like it (A Day in the D, any of the photowalks by Expedition Korea).