D.M.Z, the safest battlefield in the world
One&only D.M.Z. in the world-Imjingak park&Dora Observatory
Demilitarized Zone, only exist in Korea. The world 11th economy by GDP is still on ceasefire. It is not finished yet. They guard against each other on only 8 km distance. But it is the most wanted visit places of foreigners visiting Korea. How irony is that? You don¡¯t have to worry about safety. More than one million people are visiting this place and even US president and Hollywood movie stars are visiting this place as well.
|Korea was almost destoyed by Korean War in 1950. Korea was the one of poorest countries in the world. However, it became the world 11th economy by GDP. Demilitarized zone was announced to prevent collision between South and North Korea. 8km DMZ area was strictly restricted for about 60 year. By this reason, ironically, it became the perfectly preserved natural site. It has high value in ecology.|
There is a tunnel to be used during the battle. Of the 4 tunnel, closest tunnel from Seoul is 3rd tunnel. It might be very thrilled experience for you. You may see the North Korea by telescope. It is about 40 minutes away from Seoul and you may reach it by public transportation (takes about 2 hours since it is isolated place). Easier way to visit this place is take daily tour to DMZ, organized by city tour agencies. You will have English tour guide explain about this place as well. They close on every Mondays. If you want to join DMZ tour, just search DMZ tour, DMZ Korea, DMZ South Korea or South Korea DMZ tour on Google. You will find travel agency where operates DMZ tour regularly.
Imjingak park located at 50km northwest of Seoul was built for 5million people who lost home. Major facilities include North Hall where you can get a view of lifestyle of North Korea.
Freedom Bridge is located at 2 kilometers north of Munsan, and it is the only path that connects between the south and north around Imjin river. It was originally the Kyung-eu railway bridge, and reconstructed to the road bridge later.
DMZ Exhibition Hall & Theater
The 3rd Infiltration Tunnel
The third tunnel was discovered in October of 1978. 1.95 meters high, 2.1 meters wide and 1,635 meters long, it penetrates 435 meters south of the military demarcation line and ends at the Truce Village of Panmunjeom.
From Dora Observatory, tourists can view the North Korean propaganda village in the DMZ and as far north as the city of Gaeseong.
52 years of anticipation, waiting for the day when the two countries will be united once again. Dorasan station, the northernmost station in South Korea, has planned to connect the Gyongueisun(Line) and it will be linked to the European continent via the Siberian Railway.
Meaning of a border
The border area between South and North Korea is called by DMZ(De-Militarized Zone), CCZ(Civilian Control Zone) or CCA (Civilian Control Area).
The military demarcation line was established according to the Armistice Agreement in 27 July 1953. DMZ is the place formed by the agreement that both parties should retreat 2km from the line.
Total 1,292 signboards of the Military Demarcation Line were established from Imjin riverside to the east coast. 696 signboards have been controlled by the U.N. Forces and the rest are under the control of North Korea and China. Contrary to the Armistice Agreement, both parties have not observed the principle that they should retreat 2km from the line.
CCZ(Civilian Control Zone)
Civilian control line is the agricultural line, which was established by the commander of the 8th U.S. Army Corps in Feb. 1954 to restrict entering and farming of civilian. The agricultural line was changed to the civilian control line since military carried out the duties of defense. Civilian was allowed to enter or stay for agriculture. As a result, more than 100 villages had generated between 1959 and 1973; 99 independence & stability villages, 12 reconstruction villages, and 2 unification villages. Also, the villages had made with purpose of facing propagation village of North Korea. Although civilian control line had been proceed northward according to the request of lightening restrictions for the procedure of entering and farming facilities in the 1980s, the number of villages decreased to 105 in the 1990s.
Scope of DMZ
Where DMZ exists is described clearly in the first article, the Military Demarcation Line and DMZ of the Armistice Agreement. The first signboard of the Military Demarcation Line, 0001, was established along Imjin River and the last one, 1292 was set up at Dongho-ri of the east coast. It reaches 248km(155mile) on the ground and 200km on the west coast.
The size of DMZ is 907§´ long which is one 25ths of the gross area of the Korean Peninsula, 22000§´.
Civilian control line is 5~20km south of the Military Demarcation Line and the gross area is 1,528km2. The commander of the 8th U.S. Army Corps established it in Feb., 1954 for convenience of control. The area is not the place for residence or business and entering of civilian is prohibited.
Background of DMZ
Korea was liberated from the invasion in Aug.1945 as Japan surrendered and it resulted in the end of World War II. U.S. had started to confront with U.S.S.R about how to manage Japan and Korea after war.
The reason of opposition is that they have different opinion and hold each other in check; U.S dreamed about domination of the world and U.S.S.R had grown up to a powerful country. Also, trusteeship and divided occupying, which U.S planned as the way of resolution for the Korean Peninsula, was one of restraint. The 38th Parallel, which had decided by U.S one-sidely, was agreed by U.S.S.R on 16 Aug.1945. This is the beginning of direct opposition each other.
The Korean Peninsula was divided into two, South and North, which have its own government in 1948 and 6.25 War broke out in 1950. After that, the Armistice Agreement was put the seal in July 1953. The armistice line is the troop disposition line of truce that is installed by the mutual consents among a supreme commander of the U.N., a commander of people¡¯s army of North Korea and a commander of people support army of China. In accordance with Clause 1, Art. 01 of the Korea Armistice Agreement, there should be one military demarcation line and both parties had to retreat 2km from the line. The armistice line is the same as the military demarcation line, which reaches 248km(155mile) to the land and around 200km to the west coast.
DMZ is the place where entrance and exit or development has restricted for the purpose of military for ages. In other words, DMZ is a neutral zone whose gross area is around 30~40km including 4km(2km X 2) of DMZ and the civilian control zone, (5~20km X 2).
Gallery *Click images to enlarge
In 1945, WW2 was finally finished, but newly started ‘cold war era’ made Korea-peninsula so important to both communists and capitalists because of its location in the far east Asia. But both communists and capitalists had to make a deal, instead of fighting again to take Korea for their own ideology and they decided to split Korea-peninsula equally in size in 1945.
America government put south Korea under the military trusteeship of their own from 1945 to 1948, because South Korea didn’t have any infrastructure for both economy and politics. Korea had been ruled from1910 to 1945 by Japan, and therefore Korea couldn¡¯t’ t have any political and economical power and no choice but to accept the decision about the trusteeship. Likewise to North Korea by the Soviet-unions(Russia). In1948 America government and South Korea politicians made a suggestion to North Korea in order to make united political system representing both. But this proposal based on capitalism democracy was rejected by communist North Korea. Therefore South Korea alone conducted national elections for both president and congress members, and the official name ‘Republic of Korea’ has been used since then. At the same year 1948, North Korea established their own communist government with the support of the Soviet unions.
At last on Jun 25th 1950, North Korea red army started to invade South Korea, fully armed with Russian tanks and rifles. It was at 4 o’clock Sunday morning. And in a little more than 2 months, by the end of August, North Korea occupied three-fourths(4ºÐÀÇ3) of South Korea land. The area below Nakdong river only remained for South Korea government. And at this point America congress finally passed a bill to back up South Korea on September 2nd 1950. and America government started to intervene in the Korean War militarily (Inchoen landing operation). With the support of America government, South Korea took back Seoul on September 27th, and in October advanced to the point of the border of North Korea and China. That became the last straw for China which was completely communized in 1949. Chinese communist government no longer allowed America’s capitalism influence to spread in the Far east Asia, so their red army began to come down and push back America troops. Outnumbered by Chinese red army, American and Korean soldiers got into trouble, and 16 UN members dispatched their combat soldiers to Korea peninsula for South Korea.
That is to say Korean war started only as a war between 2 Koreas but later it became another world war involving 25 nations.
In1953 the casualty of Korean war reached 6 million already. Both communist sides and capitalist sides realized either one could win the war and finally signed the ceasefire agreement on July 27 1953. What’s really silly was that they began to talk about ceasefire agreement since 1951, but they were not able to sign it just because of the exchange rate of military prisoners. They could’ve saved a lot of lives if they had reached an agreement for the exchange rate of military prisoners.
The mistake of president Mr. Lee. : Mr. Lee really hated communism to his bone. And he refused to sign cease fire agreement. Therefore in the meeting for the cease fire agreement South Korea government wasn’t there. It was the meeting of five nations. Namely America, Britain, Russia, China, North Korea. That’s why South Korea government hasn’t had authority over the South Korea DMZ area, and people living in the South Korea DMZ don’t go to compulsory army service and pay taxes except utility bill tax. So far since the ceasefire agreement, UN has had the authority over the south Korea DMZ.
Why they have villages in the DMZ : In 1951 one year after Korean war started, the nations involved in Korean war began to talk about the conditions of cease fire agreement. And they built a meeting place which later became JSA (PANMOONJOEM). And some farmers started to collect near JAS because they found out the JSA area was neutral zone and safe to live without any attacks of bombs or soldiers. Even after the ceasefire agreement was signed, they have been allowed to live in there. Ironically the village people who had their hometown right in the location of JSA was expelled.
The flags in DAESUNGDONG village and KIJUNGDONG village: Since the Korean war, two villages(18km away from each other) in the DMZ of both Koreas have played propaganda activities. One of the well-known ones was the competition for the height of the flags marking two villages in the DMZ. In 1982 PAJU city local government put up South Korea nation flag in the DAESUNGDONG village. The height of the flag pole was 99m. The size of the flag was 18m by 12m at the cost of $2000. And North Korea responded to us with much bigger and higher one. The North Korea flag pole was 159m high and the size of the flag was 35m by 28m weighing 100 kg at the cost of $3000, which has become the world record. The specially selected people living in the DAESUNGDONG village have enjoyed relatively better life than any other people in North Korea, because they have played propaganda activities. The DAESUNGDONG village was partially renovated in 1976 and then it showed some newly-built apartments. But what¡¯s funny was the apartment buildings turned out to be fake buildings which were empty inside like Hollywood movie set.
The mark for the DMZ and the border: DMZ was made to reduce the potential military conflicts which could happen more often if we didn’t have the military buffer zone. Technically two Koreas are still at war because we never signed any peace treaty. So if we didn’t have military buffer zone, it could lead to more contacts between two Korea soldiers. If two Koreas’ soldiers met each other patrolling border, they could be engaged in a shooting spree and kill each other. That kind of trouble could result in another war. So to avoid this risk, we have made military buffer zone which is called DMZ.
They have clear marks for the DMZ line which is made of barbed wire fence. (NLL : northern limitation line ºÏ¹æÇÑ°è¼±, SLL : southern limitation line ³²¹æÇÑ°è¼±). They don’t have barbed wire fence for the border. They have set up picket fences which have signs that says ‘MDL’ every 200m all the way from the west coast to the east coast along the border line. The only place which has clear border line mark is JSA. The border line in JSA is made of a few centimeters high concrete. In the meeting house in JSA is a telephone on the meeting tables. The telephone line serves as the border. They have set up picket fences every 50m near JSA. The length of the border from the west to the east is 250km/159mile.
Why they have clear border mark in JSA : One day in JSA in 1976 when we didn’t have clear border mark, two US military officers were supervising south Korean workers whose job was to trim one poplar tree. The tree stood in between two of south Korea GOP(general out post) in JSA, blocking the soldiers of two GOP from exchanging signs. All of sudden, a gang of North Korean soldiers showed up and insisted that the tree belong to North Korea. That’s how the tragedy began. The North Korean soldiers took away the axes of south Korean workers and ganged up on the officers of the US army. The US officers were axed to death. America president Mr.Jimmy Carter exploded and announced ‘Defense Readiness Condition level 2’ which is just one step below the readiness for actual war. North Korea leader Kim ill sung got really scared about the situation and asked for the mediation of UN and sent a written apology through JSA. And the case finally settled down.
Since the tragedy happened, they have drawn the clear border mark in JSA. The telephone line serves as the border in the meeting house of JSA.
The irony of DMZ: DMZ is a very dangerous area. After the ceasefire agreement, both sides dropped land mines. South Korea alone dropped one million land mines by military helicopters. When they dropped, it looked like butterflies were flying down from the sky. So the land mine got the nickname ‘butterfly’ by America air force.
Since November 15, 1974, the South has discovered that four tunnels crossing the DMZ have been dug by North Korea. This is indicated by the orientation of the blasting lines within each tunnel. Upon their discovery, North Korea claimed that the tunnels were for coal mining. However no coal has been found in the tunnels, which are dug through granite, but some of the tunnel walls have been painted black to give the appearance of anthracite.
The tunnels are believed to have been planned as a military invasion route by North Korea. Each shaft is large enough to permit the passage of an entire infantry division in one hour, though the tunnels are not wide enough for tanks of vehicles. All the tunnels run in a north-south direction and do not have branches. Following each discovery, engineering within the tunnels has become progressively more advanced. For example, the third tunnel sloped slightly upwards as it progressed southward, to prevent water stagnation. Today, visitors may visit the second, third and fourth tunnels through guided tours.
The first of the tunnels was discovered by a South Korean Army patrol, noticing steam rising from the ground. The initial discovery was met with automatic fire from North Korean soldiers. Five days later, during a subsequent exploration of this tunnel, U.S. Navy Commander Robert M. Ballinger and ROK Marine Corps Major Kim Hah Chul were killed in the tunnel by a North Korean explosive device. The blast also wounded five Americans and one South Korean from the United Nations Command.
The tunnel, which was about 1.2 m (4 ft) high by 0.9 m (3 ft) wide, estimated total length of 3,500 meters, extended more than 1,000 m (1,100 yd) beyond the MDL into South Korea. The tunnel was reinforced with concrete slabs and had electric power and lighting. There were weapons storage and sleeping areas. A narrow gauge railway with carts had also been installed. Estimates based on the tunnel’s size, suggest it would have allowed approximately 2,000 Korean People¡¯s Army soldiers (one regiment) to pass through it per hour.
The second tunnel was discovered on March 19, 1975 in the Central Sector of the DMZ about 13km north of Cholwon. It is of similar length to the first tunnel. It is located between 50 and 160 m (160 and 520 ft) below ground, but is larger than the first, approximately 2 by 2 m (7 by 7 feet), estimated total length of 3,500 meters. It is large enough to move such heavy weapons as tanks, field artillery and armored personnel carriers and capable of letting pass 30,000 troops moving three to four abreast, or a division strength per hour. A spacious troop assembly area was carved out in the tunnel, which has three exits.
Only 44km(27miles) from Seoul or less than an hour¡¯s drive, the third tunnel was discovered on October 17, 1978. Unlike the previous two, the third tunnel was discovered based on information provided by a North Korean defector.
It is 1,635m (1.1 miles) long, 2 m (6.6 ft) high and 2 m (6.6 ft) wide and penetrates 435meters south of Military Demarcation Line at a point only 4 km south of JSA. It runs through bedrock at a depth of about 73 m (240 ft) below ground. It is apparently designed for a surprise attack on Seoul from North Korea, and can easily accommodate 30,000 men per hour along with light weaponry. Upon discovery of the third tunnel, the United Nations Command accused North Korea of threatening the 1953 armistice agreement signed at the end of the Korean War. Its description as a “tunnel of aggression” was given by the South, who considered it an act of aggression on the part of the North.
A total of four tunnels have been discovered so far, but there are believed to be up to ten more. South Korean and U.S. soldiers regularly drill in the Korean Demilitarized Zone in hopes of finding more.
Initially, North Korea denied building the tunnel. However, observed drill marks for dynamite in the walls point towards South Korea and the tunnel is inclined so that water drains back towards the northern side of the DMZ (and thus out of the way of continued excavation).
North Korea then officially declared it part of a coal mine; black “coal” was painted on the walls by retreating soldiers to help confirm this statement. However, statements in the tunnel claim that there is no geological likelihood of coal being in the area. The walls of the tunnel where tourists are taken are observably granite, a stone of igneous origin, whereas coal would be found in stone of sedimentary origin.
Photos are forbidden within the tunnel, which is now well guarded, though it is a busy tourist site, where visitors enter by going down a long steep incline that starts in a lobby with a gift shop. The South Koreans have blocked the actual Military Demarcation Line in the tunnel with three concrete barricades. The third is visible by tourists visiting the tunnel and the second is visible through a window in the third.
A fourth tunnel was discovered on March 3, 1990, north of Haen town in the former Punchbowl battlefield. The tunnel’s dimensions are 2 m ¡¿ 2 m and it is 145 m underground, the method of construction is almost identical in structure to the second and the third tunnels. With this discovery, we know that North Korea has dug invasion tunnels along the entire stretch of the front line.
Imjingak is a park of located on the banks of the Imjin River in the city of Paju.
The park has many statues and monuments regarding the Korean war.
It was built in 1972 to console those from both sides who are unable to return to their hometowns, friends and families because of the division of Korea.
There is a memorial alter called Mangbaedan where the memorial service is held.
Especially one of the biggest national holiday such as New Year¡¯s day or harvest festival, many separated family members visit this place.
And the Freedom bridge lies here and it was made as a temporary wooden bridge to exchange about 13,000 Prisoners of war in 1953.
Old steam locomotive which has more than a thousand bullet marks is exhibited beside the Freedom bridge. This cargo train had run on Gyeongui Line which linked Seoul to Pyongyang and Sinuiju. During the Korean war, because of Chinese troops entry into war on the side of the north in December 1950, South Korean troops retreated and this locomotive was bombed at Jangdan station when it was transporting military supplies from North to South. After that accident, more than 50 years of abandoned train inside the DMZ was moved at Imjingak. It was restored about 2 years and opened to the public again.
To celebrate of Year 2000, new Millennium, Peace bell which was made of melted weapons used during the Korean war was built at Imjingak.
To symbolize 21 century, this Bell weighs 21 tons and consists of 21 stairs.
It was struck 21 times on the stroke of midnight, January 1 of 2000.
The Gyeongui Line is one of the oldest railway lines in Korea. When opened in 1906 it linked Seoul in what is now South Korea to Pyongyang and Sinuiju in what is now North Korea. At Seoul, the line connected with Gyeongbu Line to Busan, while at Sinuiju, the line connected with the South Manchuria Railway, linking the Korean railway system to the rest of Asia and Europe.
This station is a second-last station of South Korea and opened after the reconnection of 6.8 km between Munsan~Imjingang station on September 30, 2001. It has trains to Seoul Station via Ilsan every hour between 6 a.m and midnight. There are 18 stops between Seoul~Imjingang station.
There is a check-point before the unification bridge and KSC(Korean Service Corps Battalion)-¹Ì À°±º ÇÑ±¹±Ù¹«´Ü and MP is stationing all the time.
No one goes inside without permission except villagers who live in the military area so South Korean MP get on the shuttle bus to check passenger¡¯s ID.
From here, taking photo is not allowed.
South Korean men have to join the army for 24 months.
Unification bridge was opened in 1998 to prepare for exchange of supplies between South and North Korea and visiting to North Korea for separated families members¡¯ reunions.
HYUNDAI Corps donated lots of money to build this bridge because of the former CEO, the late Mr. Jung Joo-young¡¯s missing his hometown in North Korea.
He was the first person who visited to North Korea as a civilian and 1000 cows were sent to North Korea to cultivate in barren land.
There are 3 civilian villages named Unification village, Daesungdong village(freedom village) and Haemaru village.
Unification village is a largest village of the three and it was built in 1973.
The government encouraged people to move in this area in order to cultivate the wasteland for a farm to produce foods and crops and the soil condition is very ideal for producing Korean 6 year-old Ginseng, rice and soybean.
That¡¯s why we can get best quality of farm-products from this area and every November, Soybean Festival is held here. A Kibbutz(a collective community in Israel. Traditionally based on agriculture and organization of reservist which is consisted of men from 17 to 60 year-old personnel for national defense) is model of this village. 125 families, 466 people are living in this village at the moment.
Dora Observatory is on the South Korean side of the 38th parallel. Situated on top of Dorasan, the observatory looks across the Demilitarized Zone. It is the part of South Korea closest to the North. Visitors can catch a rare glimpse of the reclusive North Korean state through binoculars from the 304 square feet, 500-person capacity observatory. They will be able to see the North Korean propaganda village situated in the DMZ, a remnant of the old prosperity of the North, and can see as far as the city of Gaesung which is the 3rd largest city(population about 310,000) in North and if the weather is clear, bronze statue of Kim Il-sung, former leader of North Korea, can be seen. An estimated number of his statue in the whole country of the north is about more than 25,000 and North Koreans pay their respects to the statue.
The observatory is very close to the Third Tunnel (Third North Korean Infiltration Tunnel), a massive North Korean-dug tunnel which was planned as a pathway for invasion to the South if war had erupted and it had not been discovered. The Dorasan Station, also nearby, is designed to be the station that connects the railroads of the South and North one day in the future.
And there is a Gaesung Industrial Complex.
Gaesung Industrial Park is being operated in the region, as a collaborative economic development with South Korea. It is located ten kilometers (six miles) north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone with direct road and rail access to South Korea and an hour’s drive from Seoul. Construction started in June 2003, and in August 2003 North and South Korea ratified four tax and accountancy agreements to support investment. Pilot phase construction was completed in June 2004, and the industrial park opened in December 2004.
In the park¡¯s initial phase, 15 South Korean companies constructed manufacturing facilities. Three of the companies had started operations by March 2005.
First phase plans envisaged participation by 250 South Korean companies from 2006, employing 100,000 people by 2007. The park was expected to be complete in 2012, covering 25 square miles (65 km2) employing 700,000 people. As of June 2010, 110 factories were employing approximately 42,000 DPRK workers and 800 ROK staff. Companies operating or under construction in the complex are seeking to hire an additional 26,000 North Korean workers. Construction of dormitories and other infrastructure for the additional workers is on hold as the Lee Myung-bak administration has prioritized movement on North Korean nuclear issues. Electrical power and telephone service is supplied from South Korea; 15MW of power is being supplied in 2005, with plans for a 100MW supply by 2007.
The Gaesung industrial park is run by a South Korean committee that has a fifty-year lease which began in 2004. Hyundai Asan, a division of South Korean conglomerate Hyundai has been hired by Pyongyang to develop the land. The firms are taking advantage of cheap labor available in the North to compete with China to create low-end goods such as shoes, clothes, and watches. Workers earn an average of $57 per month?half of Chinese labor costs and less than 5 percent the salaries of their South Korean counterparts.
The industrial park is seen as a way for South Korean companies to employ cheap labor that is educated, skilled and speaks Korean which would make communication considerably easier. However the zone still faces a number of obstacles. Among the most pressing are U.S. economic sanctions against the North, prohibiting imports of key technologies and goods, such as computers. More than 1000 South Korean firms are rethinking planned shifts of production from China and Southeast Asia to Gaesung.
In May 2010, due to the ROKS Cheonan sinking incident and South Korea’s response, North Korea severed ties with South Korea and shutdown the Consultative Office in the zone, however existing activities in the zone maintained production activities, and transport and telephones to South Korea are operating normally.
Dorasan Station is a railroad station situated on the Gyeongui Line, which once connected North and South Korea and has now been restored.
In 2000, former President of South Korea Kim Dae-jung visited to North Korea to meet Kim Jung-il and they agreed to reconnect Gyeongui Line.
The construction was finished and opened in February 2002.
George w. Bush, the U.S. President and Kim Dae-jung ,President of South Korea visited here on February 20, 2002 and made a speech for praying peaceful reunification of Korean peninsula and signed their name and wishes on a railroad tie.
For several years the northernmost stop on the line was Dorasan Station, which is served by Tonggeun commuter trains.
On December 11, 2007, freight trains began traveling north past Dorasan Station into North Korea, taking materials to the Gaesung Industrial Region, and returning with finished goods. It was scheduled to make one 16 kilometer (10 mile) trip every weekday.
However, on December 1, 2008, the North Korean government closed the border crossing, after accusing South Korea of a confrontational policy. This coincided with the South Korean legislative election, 2008, and a change to a more conservative government.
Plans to begin regular passenger service across the Imjin River to North Korea have yet to be finalized. However, a tourist visit in January 2010 showed clearly that the station was completely shut to all train travel, and that the station was only open for tourists.
In 2007, on the east coast of Korea, the first train crossed the DMZ on the new Donghae Bukbu Line. The new rail crossing was built adjacent to the road which took South Koreans to Gumgangsan, a region that has significant cultural importance for all Koreans. More than one million civilian visitors crossed the DMZ until the route was closed following the shooting of a 53-year-old South Korean tourist in July 2008. After a joint investigation was rebuffed by the North, the Republic of Korean government suspended tours to the resort. Since then the resort and the Donghae Bukbu Line have effectively been closed by the North.