Photoblog: Crossing the border to North Korea

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Map of DMZWith political tensions between North and South Korea erupting again, it’s time to look behind the Iron Curtain. Arno Maierbrugger crossed the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the countries.

The Demilitarised Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea, running along the 38th parallel north at a length of 250 kilometers and a width of around 4 kilometers. It is the most heavily militarised border zone in the world. Fences are electrified and the area is full of landmines, there are anti-tank barriers, flag poles and military posts on both sides. The strip itself, closed off and being a deadly place for humans, making habitation impossible since its creation in 1953, has developed into a nature reserve for rare leopards, tigers, bears and cranes and a varied biodiversity that has prompted some ecologists to propose turning the DMZ into a UN World Heritage Site.

There are just two border crossings that are occasionally open when the political situation is more relaxed: The Dorasan-Kaesong crossing in the west which gives the South access to the Kaesong Industrial Zone in the North, and the Jejin-Goseong border crossing on the east coast that allows tourists to visit the Kumgangsan mountain area in the north, commonly referred to as North Korea’s ‘holiday gulag’. Another crossing point in Panmunjon, where the building in which the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that paused the Korean War was signed, can just be visited from both sides but not crossed except from very rare exemptions over the so-called Bridge Of No Return.

Illegal crossing of the DMZ implicates a sentence of 12 years of hard labour in one of the North Korean gulags when caught, regardless whether the offender is North Korean or a foreigner.

Below a photoblog from the Dorasan-Kaesong crossing.

North Korea_DMZ1_Arno Maierbrugger
South Korean border post in Paju-Dorasan
North Korea_DMZ2_Arno Maierbrugger
South Korean military police guard
North Korea_DMZ3_Arno Maierbrugger
Entering the DMZ
North Korea_DMZ4_Arno Maierbrugger
Abandoned rail track crossing the DMZ
North Korea_DMZ5_Arno Maierbrugger
Barbed wire everywhere
North Korea_DMZ6_Arno Maierbrugger
North Korean watch post on a hill
North Korea_DMZ7_Arno Maierbrugger
South Korean soldiers patrolling the border
North Korea_DMZ8_Arno Maierbrugger
Rusty steam locomotive along the rail track
North Korea_DMZ9_Arno Maierbrugger
Crossing the Imjin River, which flows from North to South Korea through the DMZ and joins the Han River downstream of Seoul.The poles in the background seem to carry power or telecom lines.
North Korea_DMZ10_Arno Maierbrugger
North Korean guard on a hill.
North Korea_DMZ11_Arno Maierbrugger
Off limits for humans since 1953, the DMZ has developed into a natural reserve for rare species of animals and plants.
North Korea_DMZ12_Arno Maierbrugger
Electrified fences along the road
North Korea_DMZ13_Arno Maierbrugger
Final stop for the North-South railway line
North Korea_DMZ14_Arno Maierbrugger
Road for border patrols. The area is full of landmines.
North Korea_DMZ15_Arno Maierbrugger
Watch post on the North Korean side
North Korea_DMZ_Kaesong Industrial Zone_Arno Maierbrugger
Kaesong Industrial Zone
North Korea_DMZ_Farmhouses_Arno Maierbrugger
Farmhouses on the North Korean side of the border
North Korea_DMZ_Kaesong1_Arno Maierbrugger
The town of Kaesong, North Korea
Kaesong_Arno Maierbrugger
Old quarter of Kaesong
Kaesong Old Town_Arno Maierbrugger
Kaesong boasts one of the few relatively well maintained old town quarters in North Korea.
Kaesong street_Arno Maierbrugger
North Koreans on a street in Kaesong
Kaesong_construction_Arno Maierbrugger
North Korean construction brigade
Kaesogn factory_Arno Maierbrugger
Shoe production in the Kaesong Industrial Zone
Kaesong Kohlhaase_Arno Maierbrugger
Casual fashion label Koolhaas, made in North Korea by South Korean apparel maker Sinhwon Co.
Kaesong worker_Arno Maierbrugger
North Korean garment workers in Kaesong
DIGITAL IMAGE
South Korean shoe maker Samduk Stafild employs around 2,000 workers in the Kaseong Industrial Zone
Kaesong garmet worker:_Arno Maierbrugger
The official monthly salary is $57.50, of which $30 go to the Workers’ Party and $17.50 are spent on insurance and other costs, North Korean workers at the complex are left with $10 a month.
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Reading Time: 4 minutes

With political tensions between North and South Korea erupting again, it’s time to look behind the Iron Curtain. Arno Maierbrugger crossed the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the countries.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Map of DMZWith political tensions between North and South Korea erupting again, it’s time to look behind the Iron Curtain. Arno Maierbrugger crossed the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between the countries.

The Demilitarised Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea, running along the 38th parallel north at a length of 250 kilometers and a width of around 4 kilometers. It is the most heavily militarised border zone in the world. Fences are electrified and the area is full of landmines, there are anti-tank barriers, flag poles and military posts on both sides. The strip itself, closed off and being a deadly place for humans, making habitation impossible since its creation in 1953, has developed into a nature reserve for rare leopards, tigers, bears and cranes and a varied biodiversity that has prompted some ecologists to propose turning the DMZ into a UN World Heritage Site.

There are just two border crossings that are occasionally open when the political situation is more relaxed: The Dorasan-Kaesong crossing in the west which gives the South access to the Kaesong Industrial Zone in the North, and the Jejin-Goseong border crossing on the east coast that allows tourists to visit the Kumgangsan mountain area in the north, commonly referred to as North Korea’s ‘holiday gulag’. Another crossing point in Panmunjon, where the building in which the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that paused the Korean War was signed, can just be visited from both sides but not crossed except from very rare exemptions over the so-called Bridge Of No Return.

Illegal crossing of the DMZ implicates a sentence of 12 years of hard labour in one of the North Korean gulags when caught, regardless whether the offender is North Korean or a foreigner.

Below a photoblog from the Dorasan-Kaesong crossing.

North Korea_DMZ1_Arno Maierbrugger
South Korean border post in Paju-Dorasan
North Korea_DMZ2_Arno Maierbrugger
South Korean military police guard
North Korea_DMZ3_Arno Maierbrugger
Entering the DMZ
North Korea_DMZ4_Arno Maierbrugger
Abandoned rail track crossing the DMZ
North Korea_DMZ5_Arno Maierbrugger
Barbed wire everywhere
North Korea_DMZ6_Arno Maierbrugger
North Korean watch post on a hill
North Korea_DMZ7_Arno Maierbrugger
South Korean soldiers patrolling the border
North Korea_DMZ8_Arno Maierbrugger
Rusty steam locomotive along the rail track
North Korea_DMZ9_Arno Maierbrugger
Crossing the Imjin River, which flows from North to South Korea through the DMZ and joins the Han River downstream of Seoul.The poles in the background seem to carry power or telecom lines.
North Korea_DMZ10_Arno Maierbrugger
North Korean guard on a hill.
North Korea_DMZ11_Arno Maierbrugger
Off limits for humans since 1953, the DMZ has developed into a natural reserve for rare species of animals and plants.
North Korea_DMZ12_Arno Maierbrugger
Electrified fences along the road
North Korea_DMZ13_Arno Maierbrugger
Final stop for the North-South railway line
North Korea_DMZ14_Arno Maierbrugger
Road for border patrols. The area is full of landmines.
North Korea_DMZ15_Arno Maierbrugger
Watch post on the North Korean side
North Korea_DMZ_Kaesong Industrial Zone_Arno Maierbrugger
Kaesong Industrial Zone
North Korea_DMZ_Farmhouses_Arno Maierbrugger
Farmhouses on the North Korean side of the border
North Korea_DMZ_Kaesong1_Arno Maierbrugger
The town of Kaesong, North Korea
Kaesong_Arno Maierbrugger
Old quarter of Kaesong
Kaesong Old Town_Arno Maierbrugger
Kaesong boasts one of the few relatively well maintained old town quarters in North Korea.
Kaesong street_Arno Maierbrugger
North Koreans on a street in Kaesong
Kaesong_construction_Arno Maierbrugger
North Korean construction brigade
Kaesogn factory_Arno Maierbrugger
Shoe production in the Kaesong Industrial Zone
Kaesong Kohlhaase_Arno Maierbrugger
Casual fashion label Koolhaas, made in North Korea by South Korean apparel maker Sinhwon Co.
Kaesong worker_Arno Maierbrugger
North Korean garment workers in Kaesong
DIGITAL IMAGE
South Korean shoe maker Samduk Stafild employs around 2,000 workers in the Kaseong Industrial Zone
Kaesong garmet worker:_Arno Maierbrugger
The official monthly salary is $57.50, of which $30 go to the Workers’ Party and $17.50 are spent on insurance and other costs, North Korean workers at the complex are left with $10 a month.
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