Visiting the World’s Most Heavily Fortified Border: The DMZ

“When satellites take pictures of the Korean Peninsula at night, the South is awash in light. The North is almost completely dark. . . We want all the Koreans to live in light.” This powerful statement was made by the 43rd U.S. President, George Bush, when he visited Dorasan Station. This train station was the first stop the Plus3 Korea Program made during a tour of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Dorasan Station was constructed to be the last train stop in South Korea and the first train stop in North Korea, with the intention of providing commuters a connection between these two nations. While a train is currently not operated to connect these countries, this may happen in the future due to an increase in positive diplomatic discussions between the North and South. Ultimately, the intended outcome of these diplomatic discussions for many Koreans is reunification of the nation. Hope for reunification was visible throughout the entire experience at the DMZ, especially at Imjingak Park. Visitors tie ribbons on the barbed wire fences, encasing this area of the DMZ with messages urging the triumph of one Korea. However, this optimism is met with visible reminders of the challenges the nations must overcome, including the 3rd tunnel. This tunnel is one of four known underground structures built by the North Koreans with the intention of having a route to attack Seoul at any given moment, and it is believed that there are more tunnels that have yet to be discovered. Walking nearly 300 meters underground to tour the 3rd tunnel was surreal, proving the complexities and tensions of the geopolitical environment. From the interesting yet somber experience of touring the DMZ, I have gained greater insight into the many obstacles of Korean unification. However, I have also witnessed the determination and wisdom of the Korean people, and look forward to one day seeing the Koreas indulge in peace and prosperity as one nation.

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