Life in the North-Korean demilitarized zone 0

Life in the North-Korean demilitarized zone 0

Local people are worried, but tourists can still feel secure and have fun in Paju, a city located in the North Korea-South Korea demilitarized zone.

Tourists view North Korea through binoculars in Paju on July 19.

About half an hour’s drive north of Seoul, along a highway lined with barbed wire fences, are two shopping centers the size of several stadiums, just a few minutes from the most militarized area in the world.

The two buildings are located in Paju city, the entrance to the truce village of Panmunjom, where representatives of the two Koreas once discussed the terms of the armistice.

`Fairy tales come true in Paju`, is a Korean tourism advertisement.

Paju was one of the fiercest battlefields during the Korean War.

At Shinsegae Group’s Paju Premium Outlet center, about 10 children were dancing and shouting around a fountain on a hot summer day.

Elsewhere, children were carving wooden Pinocchio dolls in a farm museum, and adults were tasting wine made from local wild grapes.

There are few signs of escalating tensions in Paju after North Korea successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on America’s Independence Day, July 4.

However, in Provence village in Paju, Kim Ki-deok, a 41-year-old office worker from southern Seoul with his 4-year-old son, said he did not feel any danger in the area near the border.

`If North Korea really wants, they can fire long-range missiles,` Kim said.

The feeling of peace also exists at the US military’s Bonifas barracks on the outskirts of the city, where there is a three-hole golf course that Sports Illustrated magazine once called `the most dangerous golf course in the world` because it is located on land with

Technically, the US and South Korea are still at war with North Korea because the two sides only signed a 1953 ceasefire agreement, not a peace treaty.

This means that Koreans have long been accustomed to living in an apocalyptic scenario, when up to 10,000 North Korean artillery pieces are directed towards South Korea and have the ability to fire at any time to turn Seoul into a `sea of fire` and

For Park Chol-min, 30, it’s all just empty threats.

`Oh, that’s just an act. I think North Korea will lose more than it will gain if it turns Seoul into a sea of fire,` Park said.

In the 2000s, when the South Korean government applied the Sunshine Policy to North Korea, foreigners and locals flocked to Panmujom to see North Korean soldiers standing guard and tour a tunnel built by North Korea.

The number of tourists soared at the end of 2011, when two high-end shopping centers of Shinsegae and Lotte opened.

However, not long after the two centers opened, North Korean President Kim Jong-il passed away at the end of 2011 and his son Kim Jong-un took power in 2012. From then on, North Korea began to increase.

`The tests have not dampened tourist interest,` said an anonymous official working in Paju’s tourism industry.

Professor of psychology Kwak Keum-joo at Seoul National University said that normalizing the threat from North Korea is a manifestation of the self-protection mechanism in the psychology of Koreans.

`I worry about North Korea every time I travel abroad. When I return to Korea, I forget,` Kwak said.

However, Mr. Woo Jong-il, 74 years old, living in the small village of Manu-ri south of the Imjin River, has a different opinion.

Life in the North-Korean demilitarized zone

Mr. Woo in the shelter in his backyard.

`I don’t think the risk has decreased,` he said, showing a visitor the dark shelter, big enough for seven of his family to hide in.

`I’m always worried. Why wouldn’t I be worried? We’re right on the front lines, so we’ll be the first victims. If relations with North Korea deteriorate, this bunker makes me feel secure.`

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *