DMZ is a buffer zone between two Koreas, bisecting the Korean Peninsula
DMZ has been the most popular tourist spot of Korea for foreigners since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The purpose of the zone is to prevent the recurrence of war between North & South Koreas.
The zone ranges 2 km north and south respectively from the ceasefire line of 1953. The land stretches across the Korean Peninsula 155 miles from the mouth of Han River to the East Coast.
It’s one of the most well-preserved wild-life refuges where peace and tension coexist. The President of Korea, Park Geun-hye, is pushing to build a “peace park” in the DMZ as a new symbol of political reconciliation and ecological conservation.
The surrender of Japan in 1945 at the end of Pacific War saw the division of Korea by the 38th parallel line when the US and the Soviet Union moved into Korean Peninsula. The division line was intended to be a temporary political border, but the failure to hold free election throughout the peninsula in 1948 deepened the division between the two sides.
The North Korean tanks crossed the 38th line at the dawn of June 25, 1950. The war lasted for three years and one month to cost more than two million people’s lives. The ceasefire agreement was signed at Panmunjom on July 27, 1953. The armistice, not a peace treaty, is still in effect today.
Major Tour Spots
In essence, any DMZ tour is to experience the reality of division and to find the hope of future. The highlight of the tour is to explore a tunnel dug by North Korea. The tunnel was discovered by South Army as the third one among four tunnels, hence the name “The Third Tunnel”. It is a surreal experience to find a 1,635 meter tunnel at the depth of 73 meters underground. The infiltration tunnel was made by dangerous manual excavation work with dynamites, shovels and pick axes. The tunnel is located only four kilometers away from JSA, where the representatives of North Korea repeat their version of peace and reunification.
The other tourism spots include an observatory and a train station. The observatory sits on the top of a hill, from which you can observe the north area including the “Gaesung Industrial Complex”, the “Propaganda Village”, a huge statue of North Leader Kim Il-sung, etc. The train station is the northern most one of South Korea and it is physically connected to the North railway system, which again is linked to the Trans Eurasian Railway Network. Regardless of the frustrating diplomacy surrounding the Korean Peninsula, here you can find a hope to go to Europe by TRS (Trans-Siberian Railway).