The Korea DMZ: From a Red Zone to a Deeper Shade of Green
The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that has divided the Korean peninsula since 1953 is in fact one of the most highly militarized borders in the world, and continues to be a line of tension between North and South Korea. Crossing the peninsula from East to West, the linear enclave represents a cross section of Korean landscapes and cuts through a variety of ecosystems and topographies from the sacred mountain of Keumsangang to the delta of the Han and Imjin Rivers. Embodying the dichotomy of the boundary as the ‘space of the worst and the best’, the DMZ has been described as a Garden of Eden, a Walled-off Paradise, or an Involuntary Park, in reference to the untamed nature that has developed within the cease-fire lines and in the adjacent military areas. The de-territorializing forces of war – destruction, deforestation, mining, human loss – have also engendered the re-territorializations of nature, transforming the DMZ into a precious reserve of biodiversity in the rapidly expanding and urbanizing context of the Korean Peninsula. These valuable ecosystems have been confirmed by an international coalition of scientists, activists and peace-builders, who all agree that a future reconciliation between the two Koreas would undoubtedly threaten the fragile ecosystems and endangered species of the DMZ. This chapter advocates the importance of recognizing and planning the DMZ as a specific and singular territory – through a series of prereunification strategies –ʿ ensuring that future reunification scenarios will respect the natural balance of the site, and developing an ecological matrix as the foundation for future development and conservation plans.
KeywordsBuffer zones No-man’s land Peace-building Environmental cooperation Third landscapes
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