Between North & South Korea: The Demilitarised Zone & Joint Security Area

There’s always controversy surrounding North Korea, and it’s perhaps the element of perceived danger that makes the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) one of the most visited tourist attractions in Korea. In case you do not know, the DMZ is the neutral buffer space between the two Korean Peninsulas, and the closest you can get to one of the most closed countries in the world, North Korea. (Read also: The DMZ: The Closest You Can Get to North Korea)

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The Imjingak Park.

And right smack in the heart of the DMZ (the western end) is the Joint Security Area (JSA)–the most sensitive region where the North and South Korean leaders have diplomatic engagements. It is still in use today, and the representatives meet at the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) Conference Room.

Also called the “Truce Village”, the JSA is actually open to tourists. As expected, security in the JSA is ridiculously strict, and the air is tense in the zone. But it is nonetheless fascinating, and eye-opening. (For more on the JSA, read here.)

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Soldiers guarding the iconic blue buildings along the conference row in the JSA.

DMZ versus JSA: What is the difference?

When booking their visit to the border, many tourists are often confused between the two. The DMZ is the entire region that was declared the buffer between the two countries, as marked out by the Military Demarcation Line. The JSA is a small area located in Panmunjom, within the DMZ.  It is lined with soldiers, and is where diplomatic talks have taken place since 1953.

If you’ve read about some key places of interest but are not sure which zone they lie in, here’s a list of attractions in each one.


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Attractions in DMZ:

  • Imjingak Park
  • The Bridge of Freedom
  • 3rd Infiltration Tunnel
  • Dora Observatory
  • Unification Village
  • DMZ Theater / Exhibition Hall

Attractions in JSA:

  • Freedom House
  • Bridge of No Return
  • Point of Ax Murder
  • Conference Row buildings
  • North Korean Panmungak Panmun Hall
  • Military Armistice Commission (MAC) Conference Room

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Note: To visit the DMZ & JSA, you MUST book a tour and be preregistered. You will also need to have your IC and passport (and any other required documents) on you at all times.

 

Check out Train to Busan: No Zombies. Just Food, Scenery & Culture!, Recharge Your Seoul: 4D3N Itinerary in South Korea, and 5 Hair Salons in Seoul To Get That 2017 Wavy Korean Bob.

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