Photographers captured these dismal scenes along the border area between North and South Korea

The world is watching the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – a land strip that runs across the Korean Peninsula and serves as a buffer between North and South Korea – with bated breath.

For the first time since 2015, leaders from both countries sat down to discuss North Korea’s potential involvement in the Winter Olympics next month. Many are hopeful that the reopening of communication could mean future peace and cooperation for the Koreas.

The meeting took place in the three-story Peace House inside the Joint Security Area, a site in the DMZ used for diplomatic engagements between the two nations.

Over the past two years, Reuters photographers Jung Yeon-Je and Kim Hong-Ji have travelled to the DMZ – which is not open to the public – and returned with these incredible photos.

There’s an eerie quiet across the DMZ — the most heavily fortified border in the world.

It creates a buffer between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The zone stretches 160 miles long and 2.5 miles wide.

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In some places, barbed wire and landmines separate each country from the zone.

Elsewhere, tourists pack into observation sites that offer glimpses of “the other side.” Families will visit museums and tie ribbons at memorials on both sides of the DMZ.

Source: National Geographic

And in the vast interior, mountains and forests decimated by war have formed a nearly pristine ecological habitat. Thousands of endangered species call the DMZ home.

Source: The Guardian

The DMZ was established in 1953 as part of an agreement between North and South Korea.

There, the United Nations and communist forces negotiated a ceasefire ending the Korean War. But a peace treaty was never signed, leaving both countries technically still at war.

Over six decades later, the Koreas still honour the sanctity of the DMZ. The armistice laid out guidelines for onsite military personnel and approved weapons.

Soldiers stand guard ready to fight at the first sight of invasion — and to prevent anybody from crossing the border. In South Korea, guards must be black belts in taekwondo.

Source: Washington Post

The Joint Security Area houses three one-story conference buildings that are administered by the United Nations and painted the international organisation’s signature blue.

Tourists can walk around a conference room (not shown) that straddles the military border.

Source: USA Today

They might catch a glimpse of military exercises underway just outside the DMZ.

The last time high-level delegations from North and South Korea met at the DMZ was in 2015, after two South Korean soldiers were injured by landmines and tensions grew.

It’s too soon to tell if the recent talks will bring any meaningful, long-term resolution.

Source: Business Insider

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