[FOUNTAIN]This railway still goes nowhere

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[FOUNTAIN]This railway still goes nowhere

Mount Dora is a two-hour journey north from Seoul. The mountain is related with the ancient Silla kingdom of Korea. In the 10th century, when Silla was falling and the new kingdom, Goryeo, was rising, Gyeongsun, the last king of Silla, surrendered the kingdom to Wang Geon, the founder of Goryeo. Wang Geon treated Gyeongsun hospitably; Gyeongsun married Princess Nakrang, Wang Geon's daughter. But such hospitality could not soothe the grief of the king who had lost his kingdom.

Princess Nakrang built a small temple on Mount Dora to console her husband. Gyeongsun visited the temple often and shed tears there, thinking of his kingdom.

The temple built to console Gyeongsun was destroyed during the Korean War. A new building was built on Mount Dora in 1986.

The building is an observatory that commands a view of North Korea. The observatory was constructed to replace a North Korea observation station on Mount Songak. From the Dora observatory, South Koreans can view North Korea, especially Gaeseong city, which they have not been allowed to visit since the division of the peninsula. The observatory is very popular among South Koreans whose hometowns are in North Korea.

The people try to satisfy their yearning for their hometowns by viewing North Korea through telescopes at the Dora observatory; they want to return.

Another building was set up near Mount Dora in December. The building is located in front of the second gate of the Demilitarized Zone, at the end of the Mount Dora slope.

The new building is a small train station. The construction of the Dora station was part of the restoration of the Gyeongui Line, the railway linking Seoul in South Korea and Sinuiju in North Korea. The construction began with the world's attention 17 months ago, but it was finished too quietly. With the completion of the Dora station, the first stage of the restoration of the Gyeongui Line was finished.

Trains run only up to the Imjin river station at the southern end of the Dora station. Work on the Gyeongui Line in North Korea has made little progress.

Mount Dora has seen the tragedy of the partition of the Korean Peninsula as well as a king's grief about his lost kingdom. This year is the year of the horse, according to the Chinese calendar. We hope that an iron horse will stop at the newly-built Dora station. We should change this mountain of sad history into a symbol of reconciliation between the two Koreas.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Kim Seok-hwan

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