Publication date: October 18, 2023  

KIELTYKA GLADKOWSKI lawyers, during the participation at the Conference organised by the International Law Section of the American Bar Association in Seoul, South Korea, between 10-14 October 2023, had the pleasure to visit Demilitarized Zone (“DMZ”). The participants could see the most heavily armed border on earth, where democratic and communist countries face each other.

If South and North Korea are united in the future, this place may disappear. Our lawyers had the chance to see Imjingak Pyeonghoa-Nuri Park, the Bridge of Freedom, the DMZ theater, the Third Tunnel. The Korean Demilitarized Zone intersects but does not follow the 38th parallel north, which was the border before the Korean War. It crosses the parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and the east end lying north of it. The DMZ is 250 km (160 mi) long, approximately 4 km (2.5 mi) wide. Though the zone is demilitarized, the border beyond that strip is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world.

The 38th parallel north—which divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half—was the original boundary between the United States and Soviet Union’s brief administration 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. Since 15 November 1974, South Korea has discovered four tunnels crossing the DMZ that had been dug by North Korea. The orientation of the blasting lines within each tunnel indicated they were dug by North Korea. The third tunnel was discovered on 17 October 1978. This tunnel is about 1,600 m (5,200 ft) long and about 73 m (240 ft) below ground.