The Korean Demilitarized Zone

Lee Jung

As most of you are well aware, the political and diplomatic complications between South and North Korea are still on-going. Korea is the one of the only two divided nations in the world, along with Cyprus. Since the Korean Civil War and the Armistice Agreement, which put an end to the war, the two nations diverged into quite different countries. Between South and North Korea lies a border barrier, or a buffer zone, called DMZ. The demilitarized zone roughly follows the 38th parallel north, which divides the peninsula in half, and covers the 4 km area with the demarcation line standing in the middle.

Unlike the terrifying atmosphere you would imagine, DMZ is a very tranquil and serene place despite the underlying political tension. The area has restricted human access for decades that its natural environment has been perfectly preserved. Therefore the vast plains without human touch offer a mind-blowing phenomenon; serenity of the perfect nature and hostility embedded in the military facilities always perplex the spectator.

There are very few military facilities inside the DMZ. The Joint Security Area is the Truce Village of Panmunjom, the only place where both South and North Korean soldiers stand face-to-face. Panmunjom is a very symbolic location because of the physical proximity. Also many of the notable agreements and treaties were negotiated and accomplished at the site. Since the peace treaty in 2018, Panmunjom now serves only as a tourist attraction.

Yes! Tourist can visit DMZ and Panmunjom. Simply google it and there are a number of tourist agencies specializing in DMZ tours. They usually take a half to full day guiding tourists from Dora observatory, JSA and Panmunjom. I hope you take a day for this unforgettable memory.

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