Jessica: It has been called the scariest place on earth.
Hauck: Upon arriving here today, you will be surrounded on three sides by communist North Korea.
Jessica: What makes this place so dangerous is the uncertainty of what lies on the other side. Behind these fences, North Korea has nuclear weapons and a new, unpredictable leader.
Built after fighting ended in the Korean War, it was designed as a buffer zone between the North and the South. Demilitarized because certain weapons are not allowed.
But it is patrolled by almost 2 million soldiers, lined with high voltage electric fences and surrounded by more than a million land mines, or buried explosives. That is above ground. Right now, we are walking to one of the entrances of one of the underground tunnels.
This is one of four underground tunnels that the North built as a way to invade the South. It is about six feet tall and six feet wide and it is estimated that between 10,000 and 13,000 troops pass through it in an hour. So far, South Korea has discovered four tunnels but military experts think there may be several more.
Ortiz: Right now, you’re being observed by North Korean soldiers.
Hauck: They’re over there in that checkpoint over there.
Jessica: So, right there is North Korea?
Hauck: Right there is North Korea. Yes, ma’am.
Jessica: Oh my gosh. Right now, I am literally a step away from North Korea. If we crossed the line, North Korean soldiers have the right to shoot.
Hauck: They are allowed semi-automatic weapons, rocket propelled grenades and things like that. And they do have them and they may point them at you. They probably won’t shoot you, but I have to warn you about that.
Jessica: Ok. Not very comforting.
It is here where the two enemies can, literally, stand inches apart. And each side wants to show off its power. South Korea wants to put its best face forward, so the soldiers who work at the border have a certain requirement. They have to have a black belt in Taekwando, stand 5 feet 8 inches tall, and have a stocky build. The North also stacks their side with high ranking officers, who are among the best-fed people in a country suffering from famine. This silent stand off is how it has been since the end of the Korean War nearly sixty year ago.
Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.
- Why is the area that Jessica Kumari reports from called the demilitarized zone, or DMZ?
- In your opinion, why does the DMZ exist between North and South Korea?