The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Korea

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Korea:
The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a region on the Korean peninsula that demarcates North Korea from South Korea. Roughly following the 38th parallel, the 150-mile-long DMZ incorporates territory on both sides of the cease-fire line as it existed at the end of the Korean War (1950–53). The areas north and south of the demarcation are heavily fortified, though skirmishes between the two sides are rare. Located within the territory is the “truce village” of P’anmunjom, but most of the rest of the land has reverted to nature, making it one of the most pristine undeveloped areas in Asia.
On both sides of the DMZ, travelers must book a guided private or group tour with an official operator. Most first-time visitors choose a combined DMZ and JSA (Joint Security Area) tour by way of Seoul. The South Korean side of the DMZ, and the surrounding area, encompasses several parks, observation towers and museums — plus a plethora of tour itineraries. The itinerary usually takes travelers to unfinished infiltration tunnels (said to be built by the North), the barricaded Freedom Bridge (used to return prisoners at the end of the war), Nuri Peace Park, the Dora Observatory and the Mount Odu Observatory. Also known as Unification Hill, the Mount Odu Observatory is a highlight, providing voyeuristic travelers with binoculars and 360-degree views across the peninsula. From this perch, you’ll see the modern cities and cars of South Korea in one direction, juxtaposed with marshy landscapes up north. While largely desolate, you might spot a glimpse of graceful white cranes, eagles, bears, goats or deer.