After about fifteen minutes of walking along a dirt trail with the North Korean soldiers, we arrived at a second army post. It must have been no later than 7:00 a.m. It was hard to believe that the day was just beginning. This facility was slightly larger than the previous location but rudimentary all the same. While Euna was taken into a room to talk to the officer in charge, I was led through the dim sleeping quarters, which contained half a dozen metal bunk beds with thin, stained mattresses, to a small washroom. There was no sink, just a large bucket of water. On a ledge sat a couple of used, brown-stained toothbrushes. A soldier handed me a dirty rag and motioned for me to clean my face.
I hadn't thought about my injury or appearance since that moment on the ice. I touched the side of my face; my jaw was tender. It hurt to open my mouth. Dried blood from the gash on my head had caused a large chunk of hair to stick together and harden against my skin. It was difficult to peel away the hair to inspect the actual injury. I winced in pain as my fingers touched the bloody lesion for the first time. Not wanting to infect the wound with the grimy towel, I lightly wiped my face, steering clear of the injury.
I was then led into the room with Euna and the officer. There were no signs of technology, no electronic equipment, not even electricity for that matter. Euna spoke Korean to the officer in charge, telling him we were university students working on a documentary about the border region. She told him we had made an innocent mistake. I asked Euna to convey to the man that we were very sorry and ask if he could please take us to the official bridge over the river between North Korea and China so we could walk back to China. I didn't think they would, but hoped there might be a slight chance they would send us back over the bridge so the Chinese authorities could deal with us.
"Tell him we're sorry and that we could pay a fine if necessary for any inconvenience we've caused," I added.