Monday, September 13, 2010

The Dividing Line that is the JSA

Here it is, the Joint Security Area. That white building is in North Korea. The building I'm standing in is in South Korea. Those sky blue buildings in between are where joint talks take place. We could not point nor use a camera that had a powerful zoom. It was tense to say the least. Strangest of all how this war zone was now a tourist attraction.

Here I am, taking in the tension as well as the weird shoot photo moment.

This soldier's job is to always keep one eye on North Korea. He stands on the corner so that he can not only know what's happening in front of him, but also what's happening to the right side of him. Kwang's brother was chosen to work in this position during his two years of military duty. I asked Kwang why Changwoo was placed here and he told me it was because he was tall, had 20/20 eyesight, had a father who worked as a high ranked Navy officer and was able to stand straight with his legs together with no space between. It was a dangerous position, but the barracks were extremely cushy. Changwoo only had three roommates where Kwang shared a space with 80 other soldiers. Yikes! Also most Koreans are not given permission to visit the JSA. However, Kwang and his family were given special permission to visit Changwoo there.

If you look closely at the pillar the third in from the left you will see a North Korean solider. He was holding binoculars and every so often would look up at us. On this part of the tour we were not allowed to wear t-shirts with large logos, flip-flops, shorts, jeans with holes or military/gang looking clothing. North Korea is known to take pictures of westerners dressed in this sort of clothing and use it as propaganda. 

"Look at these westerners dressed in flip-flops and ripped jeans. They are so poor that they must go around wearing ripped clothing and can only afford sandals you would wear in the bathroom. Can you believe it?!"

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