Friday, September 16, 2005

Stuff: Spot the wee turrets

Living in South Korea, which borderlines with one the last frontiers of communist dictatorship - North Korea, is certainly no easy task. Certainly, in a country like this, self-defense measures are necessary, if not crucial.

If anyone has ever opened their eyes, while traveling through S.Korea especially in the north, they will notice gun turrets at various locations, barbed wire fences with troop outposts every couple of hundred of meters, and of course, the world-known DMZ (Demilitarized Zone).

The DMZ is a strip of land about 4km wide, and spans 248kms from East to West, dividing the Korean peninsular into the north and south.

If you think its just a barren strip of land... Look again. Tour guides didn't have to point it out to me on my visit there last November. Fenced off areas are everywhere!

There are plenty of these land mines still scattered around the DMZ. Unfortunately the people who planted them lost the friggin map, so I guess its been rather a b***h of a job to remove some of these. Incidentally, for anyone who has an interest in history and what's the deal with the DMZ, do join a day-tour to visit it ~ obviously from the South Korean side! Tours leave from Incheon International Airport, as well as Seoul city center.

As much as I would like to say that I live far far far away from the border now (Look at the map above), I see this sight everyday going to work.

They are camouflaged gun turrets. It doesn't quite freak me out, since I had worked previously on a project about 30kms from the DMZ. I guess you just get used to the idea...

Note: Seoul isn't exactly THAT far from the DMZ either, and there are rumours of up to 20 secret under-ground tunnels leading from North Korea into the South. A few possibly infiltrating directly into Seoul city itself. So far, South Korean military have managed to find and cordon off only 4.

After all these years, there are obviously still issues to North Korea opening up, hence the recent 6-party talks to resolve the North Korean nuclear 'problem'. I suppose we can only watch and wait till the day they do away with the DMZ. Appparently South and North Korea are starting to show small steps towards reconciliation already...

In the meantime, I'll be on the lookout for more turrets and landmines. :P


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