There are strange borders all over the world, but some of them are even stranger. The DMZ is the de facto border and buffer zone between North and South Korea, a 4 km wide and 240 km long strip that slashes right across the peninsula visibly decorated with military tanks, electric fences and army soldiers. Supposed to be one of the scariest places on earth, Stanito found it for you…
They call it De-militarised Zone but in fact it is anything but heavily militarised, with a 4 km buffer zone filled with land mines. Not that we saw any of them, of course, but we did cruise through the 4 km road across the fields as our guide was explaining everything about it. Even pill-boxes I could see there.
It all looked very surreal, not to mention that this border is major attractions for those who dare to come to this part of the world. Truth is, my friends and I found it very interesting and relaxing experience in spite of what many people say about it from the South Korean side. I haven’t personally seen the border from Seoul but I’m told by many that the place is indeed a stressful one as tensions are palpable.
Not the North Korean side though. Here the atmosphere was overall surprisingly relaxed and, while normally taking photos would be a problem, here our guides really didn’t budge an inch about it.
Tension was the last thing we perceived here. In fact, soldiers were quiete but still friendly enough to take their picture with us
This part of our tour encompassed a full immersion on the historical events that led to the creation of this buffer zone in 1953.
As we arrived the first thing saw was the actual delimitation between North and South side which is literally a thin strip that marks the border. If you want with one step you’re in country and with a step back you’re in the other
Throughout our walk and itinerary we were told the story that led to the eventual official separation of both countries according to their version.
We paid special attention to the Negotiations table, where Kim Il-Sun signed the peace agreement in 1953 with the imperialist power, the United States…
… and the monument that symbolises Kim Il-Sung achievement
So we spent time listening to their version of the facts and witness the places where these events actually happened.
It is definitely very interesting to hear all of their history even though you might think that many of the facts are altered and the glory of their nation. The US and Soviet led-Korea claim completely different versions where the ‘surrender’ changes depending to whom you ask. Both Koreas claimed unification at some point, problem is they claim the territory over the other one. Only time can settle this difference I think.
What not many people know about the DMZ is this…
A long long time ago there used to be a road connecting Kaesong and Seoul by crossing a river. The local people built a bridge and a town which was named Panmun.
Harsh weather, however, made the village short-lived and the heavy rains eventually washed it away and prevented people from crossing the river. People persisted though and there they built an inn for those travellers that were delayed to cross the river due to weather conditions. It was called Panmunjom.
Then the Korean War came and the town Panmun was in fact erased from the map. But the name persisted until this very day. In fact, dear Reader, Panmun is where they built the houses to hold the Negotiation Tables with the United States.