In order to get to my friend’s wedding in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I stopped by Seoul, Korea for five days. In addition to checking out some amazing palaces and eating kalbi every day, one must also take an hour bus ride, 35 miles away to the Demilitarized Zone, aka the DMZ.
The DMZ is ironically one of the most militarized areas of the Korean peninsula. It was established on July 27, 1953 as a 2.5 mile wide buffer between the North and South. The line in the center of the DMZ is called the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). I was curious to see the place for myself since a flare up in country relations always seems to occur at least twice a year.
So why was the DMZ created in the first place? It started with the Japanese when they took over Korea from 1910 until the end of World War II in 1945. In August 1945, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and—by agreement with the United States—occupied Korea north of the 38th parallel. The US subsequently occupied the south and Japan surrendered.
From 1950 – 1953 over three million people died fighting for the sovereignty of Korea. The North, influenced by the Soviets and the Chinese with their communist ideology, felt they had right to rule the land. The South, helped by the Americans and our democratic ideology strongly disagreed.