Gangwon Province – Border strip full of wonders and threats in South Korea

Gangwon Province - Border strip full of wonders and threats in South Korea

Gangwon Province – Border strip full of wonders and threats in South Korea.

Strip of no man’s land is exactly 248 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide. For almost 70 years no man has been allowed to enter it. No wonder: this is an area dotted with 150,000 land mines. Reason? After years of fighting, North and South Korea signed an armistice in 1953 and established a demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the border between the two countries.

At the time, no one expected that this pact would turn the former arena of fierce clashes into one of the most isolated natural paradises in the world. By leaving the flora and fauna to themselves, a biotope rich in species was created on this piece of land. Which is the homeland for such rare and protected animals as: Red-crowned cranes, chestnut vultures, Himalayan bears, leopards and even Siberian tigers.

Now, for the first time, people can re-experience this wilderness to a limited degree. Two years ago, the South Korean government opened hiking trails directly at the DMZ. Passing barbed wire and watchtowers, they run for miles through the fascinating mountains and valleys of Gangwon Province. There you can go on a quest between landmines and leopards. That’s why sappers are often seen on the road. Never stray from the trail or abandon the care of a local guide. Passing through military checkpoints on the way to new tourist routes requires permission from the Armistice Commission in South Korea.

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