Having studied Zen Buddhism in the South of Korea, I've always found solace in old Buddhist temples. But this particular spot was special. We had just hiked a full morning through the Inner Kumgang Mountains, as part of a 7-night North Korea tour, when we saw up ahead beautiful rafters peering down at us. The Podok Hermitage is a spectacular sight. Built during the Koguryo Dynasty, and re-built during the Ri Dynasty in 1675, this house sits on a single copper pole suspended in the middle of a 20-meter high cliff.
As we approached the hermitage, I saw centuries of history filled with strife and glory pass before my eyes. This temple had seen it all. I sat inside the hermitage, just stone and dirt now, looking out onto the world through a small window. For a moment, I found peace in North Korea.