Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

With Memorial Day coming up in both the U.S. and the Republic of Korea, I thought I’d focus the next couple of Places to See posts on war-related sites. This one focuses on the Demilitarized Zone, aka the DMZ.

Sign at the Bridge of No Return between South Korea and North Korea

As most people know, Korea was divided into two countries at the end of World War II upon Korea’s liberation from Japan. [The story of exactly how that happened is more than I want to go into in this post.] At that time, the country was divided at the 38th parallel. The two Koreas are technically still at war since in 1953 a truce was declared but no formal peace treaty was ever negotiated and signed.

And thus the Demilitarized Zone came to be. The land separating the two countries is 160 miles long and 4.5 miles wide. And interestingly the zone’s name is far from its nature since the it is probably the most heavily militarized border in the world.

While it is still an active military zone, it’s also a popular tourist destination. Many guided tours of the DMZ are available. The Korea Tourism site says, “Itineraries differ, but most tours will take visitors to an observatory, one of North Korea’s infiltration tunnels, a military base, and into Panmunjeon, the Joint Security Area in the middle of the DMZ where negotiations between the two sides are held.”

It’s on my list of things to see during one of our upcoming visits to Korea. It seems like I’ve heard that children under a certain age cannot visit the DMZ. So if you have kids with you, you might want to check on that before booking a tour.

Wikipedia has a great entry on the DMZ that includes some very interesting photos. The address is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_Demilitarized_Zone. And the Korea Tourism site has information on tours and more interesting photos. That address is www.visitkorea.or.kr/ena/SI/SI_EN_3_4_1.jsp.

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