The armistice that put a halt to the Korean War (1950-1953) divided the Korean Peninsula into South and North Korea. The two sides are separated by the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, running along the 38th parallel north. In accordance with the ceasefire, the DMZ serves as a buffer zone between South and North Korea to prevent direct military collisions. It spans between the Southern and Northern limit lines. The Southern Limit Line extends from Imjingang River in the west to Dongho-ri in the east. From the Military Demarcation Line, the South and the North created a buffer zone of two kilometers on each side. Because of the high risk of military conflicts in the area, a phase line was established to control civilian access. Such restrictions, which have been in place for the last fifty years, have helped the ecological resources in the area to remain in an untouched state. As a result, the DMZ is also a unique natural ecosystem, one that is globally acknowledged for its ecological value.
The DMZ is approximately 992 square kilometers in area and consists of mountains, plains, valleys, and basins. The area is home to many internationally protected species, endangered species, natural monuments, and protected wild flora and fauna. It also offers a habitat and migratory route for important waterfowls and crane species. Currently, of the 2,900 species inhabiting South and North Korea, 960 flora species, 35 of the 70 mammal species, and 64 of the bird species are found in the DMZ.
Civilian access to the DMZ is strictly controlled. Certain areas restrict individual tourists from visiting the area on their own, making some tourist sites in the area available for sightseeing via a few DMZ tour packages offered by select travel agencies. Also, a visit to the DMZ often requires an ID card, passport, or other types of documentation for identity check purposes.
(From upper left in a clockwise direction: Nuri Peace Park at Imjingak, Third Infiltration Tunnel, Dorasan Station, and the Panmunjeom)
Established in 1972 immediately after the declaration of the joint South-North statement, Imjingak exhibits various relics and monuments related to the Korean War and subsequent South-North confrontations. The Nuri Peace Park is a large park that can accommodate up to 20,000 tourists at a time. The park has a variety of sculpted artwork and visitors can enjoy performances on the hill.
First discovered in 1978, the tunnel was designed for a surprise attack on the Republic of Korea by the North. The tunnel is 1.7 kilometers long, 2 meters high and 2 meters wide. It is a prime example of the South-North confrontation. (ID card and passport are required.)
Dorasan Station is the northernmost railway station situated on the Gyeongui Line. It is located 30 meters from the Southern Limit Line. From the station, visitors can view Dorasan Mountain and the barbed wire fences of the Southern Limit Line.
Panmunjeom was established as a venue for dialogue between South and North Korea in accordance with the armistice agreement signed on July 27, 1953 after the Korean War. It is now known world-wide as the place where the military armistice conference was held (ID card and passport are required.).
Unification Hill and Aegibong Peak Observatory
A place for education on security matters, Unification Hill is situated where the Hangang River joins the Imjingang River. It is also conveniently located near Heyri Art Valley.
Aegibong Peak in South Korea is a great place to view a wide expanse of North Korean land. The area is frequented by people who left North Korea during the Korean War and became settled in the South after the war (Closed on Mondays; ID card and passport are required).
Godaesan Mountain, Yeolsoe Observatory
Godaesan Mountain stands to the right of Sintan-ri Station. It rises 832 meters above sea level. From the summit, one can get a view of the Cheorwon Plains and the Baekmagoji Highland Battlefield.
The Yeolsoe Observatory is an observatory that offers a birds-eye-view of North Korea. On exhibit are daily household goods and military equipment from North Korea, allowing visitors to get an indirect experience of the North (ID card and passport are required.)
Yeoncheon Sunguijeonji shrine is situated at the foot of Amasan Mountain on the Imjingang riverside and enshrines the spiritual tablets of King Taejo Wang Geon (877-943), three other kings and 16 loyal subjects of the Goryeo era.
☞ Homepage: http://dmz.gg.go.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
☞ A few things to note before embarking on a DMZ tour
- Those visiting the Third Infiltration Tunnel and Panmunjeom must show their identity card the Imjingak ticket center and get a ticket before beginning the tour.
- Visitors of certain nationalities may be restricted from sightseeing at the DMZ.
- Photos can only be taken where permitted.
- Visitors must be at least 10 years old.
- The DMZ is closed on Mondays and Korean national holidays.
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