On this day July 27, 1953

An armistice was signed to end hostilities in the Korean War, officially making the Division of Korea indefinite by creating an approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) wide demilitarized zone running across the Korean Peninsula.

Korean DMZ

Korean DMZ

The area now as 한반도 비무장지대 in Korean is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea.

The 38th parallel north—which cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half—was the original boundary between the US-occupied and Soviet-occupied areas of Korea at the end of World War II.

Upon the creation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, informally North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (ROK, informally South Korea) in 1948, it became a de facto international border and one of the most tense fronts in the Cold War.

Both the North and the South remained heavily dependent on their sponsor states from 1948 to the outbreak of the Korean War. The conflict, which claimed over three million lives and divided the Korean Peninsula along ideological lines, commenced on June 25, 1950, with a Soviet-sponsored DPRK invasion across the DMZ, and ended in 1953 after international intervention pushed the front of the war back to near the 38th parallel.

In the ceasefire of July 27, 1953, the DMZ was created as each side agreed in the armistice to move their troops back 2,000 metres (2,200 yd) from the front line, creating a buffer zone 2.5 miles (4 km) wide. The Military Demarcation Line (MDL) goes down the center of the DMZ and indicates exactly where the front was when the agreement was signed. Since the armistice agreement was never followed by a peace treaty, the two Koreas are still technically at war.

Owing to this theoretical stalemate, and genuine hostility between the North and the South, large numbers of troops are still stationed along both sides of the line, each side guarding against potential aggression from the other side. The armistice agreement explains exactly how many military personnel and what kind of weapons are allowed in the DMZ. Soldiers from both sides may patrol inside the DMZ, but they may not cross the MDL. Sporadic outbreaks of violence due to North Korean hostilities killed over 500 South Korean soldiers and 50 U.S. soldiers along the DMZ between 1953 and 1999.

Tae Sung Dong was the only village allowed by the armistice committee to remain within the boundaries of the DMZ. Residents of Tae Sung Dong are governed and protected by the United Nations Command and are generally required to spend at least 240 nights per year in the village to maintain their residency. In 2008 the village had a population of 218 people. The villagers of Tae Sung Dong are direct descendants of people who owned the land before the 1950-53 Korean War.

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