The Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, 4 km wide by 250
km long, has become a wildlife haven and, I was told there are 15 Korean tigers in
the east of the DMZ
2 ½ hours south along the ‘Reunification Highway’ is the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
Located in the middle of the DMZ, Panmunjom is where the 27th July 1953 armistice was
signed at the end of the Korean War. The village of Panmunjom was destroyed in the war and
all that now remains is the building constructed for the signing of the eighteen copies of
Volume I and II of the armistice agreement.
The building was constructed by both sides over
a 48-hour period. North Korea provided labour
and some supplies, while the United Nations
Command provided some supplies, generators
and lighting to allow the work to continue at
night. I was told that the US suggested
constructing a temporary tent intending to
destroy the evidence after.
Apparently, there were 700 meetings held between July 1951 and the signing on 27th July,
1953. There were 5 big problems – confirmation of the DMZ line, establishment of the DMZ,
vacation of the area, peaceful and orderly vacation and the exchange of war prisoners. I was
told that the Americans were cowards and signed the Armistice agreement under the United
Nations flag instead of their own. With all the military around I didn’t dare disagree!
The Joint Security Area, constructed in 1953/4 is the only portion of the Korean Demilitarized
Zone where North and South Korean forces stand face-to-face. The House of Peace (situated
on the South Korean side, was used by the two Koreas for diplomatic engagements and, until
March 1991, was also the site of military negotiations between North Korea and the United
In 2018, North and South Korean officials ordered the JSA to be cleared of all landmines,
weapons, guard posts, and personnel. This withdrawal was complete on October 25, 2018 and
the JSA now just contains 35 unarmed security guards. The area will also no longer function in
its current state and it was agreed that it will now just serve as a tourist attraction. This is the
only location where visitors can photograph soldiers from both sides.
Historic Summit of 2018
On 26th April, 2018 North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un crossed the line dividing the
demilitarized zone to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in an historic summit.
They talked in the House of Peace and also planted a pine tree and poured on water from the
sacred mountains of Mount Paektu (North Korea) and Mount Hallasan (South Korea)
Tables with the signed amnesties - one
has the flag for North Korea & the other
the United Nations flag, On the walls are a
museum of photos and documents.
The border between North & South Korea
with the Peace House in the top right.
A rare photo of a military person
Click on any photo to see a slideshow of larger versions