Panmunjom, inside the Joint Security Area (JSA) of the DMZ, Korea
Panmunjom, inside the Joint Security Area (JSA) of the DMZ

The DMZ, or Korean Demilitarized Zone, is a heavily fortified buffer and war zone that runs along the 38th parallel separating South Korea and North Korea. The demilitarized zone runs across the Korean Peninsula for 250 kilometers (160 miles). It is about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) wide.

The DMZ was created on July 27, 1953 during the Korean Armistice Agreement, which marked the end of the Korean War.

South Korea and North Korea agreed to pull troops back 2,000 meters (2,200 yards) from the front line. This front line is now known as the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).

This buffer zone is still highly militarized and patrolled on each side to protect against invasions. According to the agreement, troops may patrol the DMZ but may not cross the Military Demarcation Line.

The war may be over but the threat still remains. Many incidents have occurred over the years including Operation Paul Bunyan and the Axe Murder Incident in August 1976 which took place at the Bridge of No Return, which links the north and south.

Two villages, Tae Sung Dong and Kijong-dong, are located inside the DMZ.

Republic of Korea (ROK) guard at Panmunjom
Republic of Korea (ROK) guard at Panmunjom

An abandoned village known as Panmunjom is now the location of the Joint Security Area (JSA). It is here where South and North Korean soldiers stand face to face. Blue conference rooms are used for talks between both sides. The MDL passes through these buildings and is marked by a solid line of concrete.

How To Get To The DMZ From Seoul

If you want to visit the DMZ, you will have to book a tour. Individual visitors are not allowed.

There are many tour groups for you to choose from that charge different prices, but the one of the best known and most popular ways to visit the DMZ is with the United Service Organizations (USO). Visitors to the DMZ are often allowed to enter one of the conference rooms. If you walk to the opposite side of the room, you are technically standing on North Korean soil.

Read More about taking a tour of the DMZ with USO.

Last Updated on Dec 23, 2021