South Korea

On the Border

The last wall of the Cold War is a funfair closely watched by soldiers

Its name is Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), and it is the buffer zone created at the end of the war in 1953. Five hundred kilometres along the 38th parallel, open to tourists after half a century of isolation, which become a coast-to-coast trip through pristine nature reserves, underground tunnels and observation towers. Here, binoculars pointed at North Korea are the metaphor of a sixty-year-old obsession: the enemy must be studied, spied upon, photographed. Also by kids on a school trip. Even though, like in Godot, nothing ever happens in the end. Yet, following the DMZ is not just a patriotic pilgrimage: the trip offers the portrait of a country where living in the shadow of a barbed wire fence has become the normality.