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After three years of bloody conflict that saw three million people dead, the two neighboring countries, North and South Korea, entered into an armistice in 1953 agreeing to end all hostilities of the Korean War but never quite agreeing to peace. As a result, the border between the two countries is still one of the most heavily armed regions in the world enclosed by barbed wire fences and dotted by land mines, and surrounded by hundreds of thousands of soldiers.

As part of the armistice signed, a 4-kilometer strip of buffer zone called the DMZ or the Korean Demilitarized Zone, stretching the entire 250-kilometer-long border was created separating the two countries. Both nations were required to evacuate their part of the DMZ of all civilian settlements, except one that each nation was allowed to keep or create. These sole outposts, thinly masquerading as working villages, were built for propaganda to extol each side's superior way of life. They sit directly opposite each other.


A massive flagpole in the North Korean “Peace village” as seen from the South. Photo credit: Mattis Kaminer /

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