These Images Show Intimate Look At Life In High Alert On The Korean DMZ

The Korean peninsula that talked of “unification” in January has devolved into acidic exchanges of vitriolic threats and military brinksmanship.

The Korean tension is far from over, and it’s also long running.

There have been numerous instances of these types of exchanges, including exchanges of lead — now is no different, for two countries who’ve grown used to living at the lip of war.

That’s why the 38th parallel, the “Demilitarized Zone,” is one of the most heavily fortified border on the planet.

North Korea has approximately 1.1 million active duty personnel, whereas the South has only 687,000.

Though the North is plagued with financial issues.

DPRK pilots fly less than 10 training hours a year on (mostly) 50 year-old platforms.

The ROK fields mostly American and western equipment, all if it up to date.

They can also conduct regular large scale combined-arms, live-fire training exercises.

The difference is stark. Though the DPRK boasts constantly about exercises, sanctions prevent them from getting sufficient gasoline.

Towers on the DMZ on both sides are manned constantly, and as recently as 2010 have exchanged gunfire.

A lot of the DMZ is patrolled by the Korean Marine Corps, or the ROKMC.

ROK Troops regularly patrol the 160 or so miles of fencing, looking for anything that can be exploited.

Though security is tight, just last year a young North Korean soldier cut through the fence.

He got as far as a military barracks without being noticed, until he knocked on the barracks door.

North Korea would likely rely on their artillery to strike a blow, as they did in 2010 when they shelled a South Korean island.

Their starving, ill-supplied troops would not fare well against a joint U.S.-ROK response.

In both Koreas, military service is obligatory.

In the South, military service is considered one of the four constitutional duties.

The others being labour, education, and taxes.

Much of the DMZ border area wears the looks of 60 years of 'almost' war.

Bridges, gates and masonry that's just south of the wall stand mostly neglected.

Though fresh feet patrol the area with each passing generation.

And much of their training is kept fresh from regular engagements with the U.S., and it's a good thing too ...

Since the signs seem to say that the next 50 years could be much the same.

Now that you've seen what High Alert means to the ROK ...

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.