DMZ, or the Korean Demilitarized Zone, in South Korea is one of the world’s most dangerous frontiers despite being the cease-fire line. Tank traps, electrified fences, and landmines make it impossible to escape feeling the tension between North Korea and South Korea. Additionally, seeing the troops in battle uniform standing upright with their dark sunglasses on heightens the intimidating atmosphere.
However, the ominous experiences definitely add to the thrill.
If you are coming from Seoul to the DMZ, you will probably encounter severe traffic jams, but as you slowly approach the DMZ, the amount of traffic will substantially decrease. Most likely, the only vehicles going the other way are those that entered earlier.
This lack of activity undoubtedly creates an uneasy atmosphere. At times, you may even start to fear for your security and the safety of the people you are traveling with.
Therefore, if you are considering visiting this region, do not be surprised if you witness absolute stillness for quite some time.
As you may anticipate, outsiders are not permitted to reside. The only people who live there are those who were either born there or married members of the neighborhood. There is a school with 30 kids and 20 teachers, with one UNC officer teaching 5G and English to the children for free.
You will see the North Korean “propaganda village” Kijong on the other side. This abandoned village was built in 1953 to entice the South Korean military to the North.
All of the structures are concrete shells, some of which have no backs. So, apparently, the maintenance personnel maintain streets with no residents.
The 525-foot flagpole, which is the fourth tallest in the world, is the only feature worth praising about the location.
Camp Bonifas was designed in honor of commander Captain Arthur Bonifas of the Joint Security Force unit, who was assassinated in 1976 with no proper warning while his squad went to prune a tree in the Joint Security Area.
The site of the memorial is where the tree formerly stood. It is worth noting that the diameter of the memorial is the same as that of the tree.
The fact that you cannot descend the vehicle while visiting this spot adds to the uneasiness. Although the tour guides may not disclose the actual explanation, it is generally understood as a safety measure because North Korean soldiers are stationed nearby.
“Defector” is a well-known term used to describe an individual who dares to cross the DMZ from North to South Korea after growing weary of living in deplorable circumstances.
One such incident took place in 2017 when a North Korean defector attempted to flee. Tourists can still see the bullet holes left by the North Korean soldiers who fired at him but missed and hit one of the buildings.
You can also view the spot beside the retaining wall where the man laid shot after his vehicle got trapped in a ditch before the South Korean soldiers rescued him to safety.
Upon reaching the negotiating rooms that act as the line between North and South Korea, you will see a warning signboard stating “Entering this room” will imply admission into a “hostile area” and danger of “injury or death as a direct result of enemy action.”
An expressionless soldier guards the interior, ready to fight anyone trying to cross the border. Although it might seem unsettling, he is actually there to stop you from entering hell.
Representatives from North and South Korea mutually planted the tree in 2018 as a gesture of harmony and prosperity.
However, as history goes, a pine tree, the national tree for both nations, was initially planted in 1953 when both sides agreed to a cease-fire, but according to local guides, it started dying right away and required special care to survive.
To many, visiting DMZ from South Korea will undoubtedly seem ominous.
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