DMZ sees tourism boom after Inter-Korea Summit
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DMZ sees tourism boom after Inter-Korea Summit

BARELY a month after the inter-Korean summit, the positive effects can already be seen.

Not only has it spurred interest in other historical meets between world leaders and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, tourists too are taking more interest in the place where it all started: the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ).

The DMZ is a 250-kilometre long strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that is heavily protected. Established by the provisions of the Korean Armistice Agreement signed by North Korea, China, and the United Nations in 1953, it serves as a buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea.

SEE ALSO: Trump-Kim commemorative coin is ‘weird’ and ‘un-American’

In recent years, the border has become somewhat of a tourist attraction as it hosts the small Joint Security Area (JSA) where negotiations between the two countries take place.

It is known as the place at which the 2018 inter-Korean summit led by South Korean President Moon Jae In and Kim Jong Un took place.

Soon after the summit, the border tourism saw a boom, with tourists choosing to visit the tourist spots along the DMZ. This is viewed as a positive outcome from the summit, as there have been doubts about the safety of the border in the past due to various incidents that caused military and civilian casualties.

For example, in November 2017, 24-year-old North Korean soldier Oh Chong Song made a dramatic dash across the border and defected to South Korea.

SEE ALSO: Watch: Dramatic footage shows escape of North Korean defector

The incident saw his former North Korean comrades firing dozens of rounds at him, striking Oh Chong Song five times. He survived, but he wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. Stories of defecting soldiers and gunfights are thought to be reasons why tourists view the DMZ as unsafe to visit.

Another contributing factor is the DMZ is not exactly a breeze to access and the JSA is not easy to visit due to the heavy military presence. Tourists need to be on an approved, guided tour by any one of these tour companies and on select dates.

And while on tour, there are strict guidelines to follow right down to the dress code and picture-taking etiquette.

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A couple looks at North Korean side from an observation deck at the Imjinkak pavilion, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which separates the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, May 10, 2018. Source: Reuters/Kwak Sung-Kyung

As aforementioned, following the inter-Korean summit, the number of visitors to tourist spots near the border has seen a surprisingly healthy increase.

According to Travel and Tour World, the number has gone up by 30 percent, from 1,200 to 2,300 visitors per day in the same period last year to 1,500 to 3,000 visitors per day.

South Korea’s government also attributed the rise in the number of tourists to the lifting of restrictions on package tours imposed by Chinese cities.

SEE ALSO: North Korea aligns clocks with South as propaganda cut off in DMZ

The destinations along the border include the DMZ tunnel, Imjingak park, the Freedom bridge, the North Korean infiltration tunnels, and Dorasan train station, just to name a few.

Other positive outcomes from the inter-Korean summit include South Korea’s switching off the propaganda-broadcasting loudspeakers from its border and North Korea realigning its time zone with Seoul.

If all goes well, US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are also expected to meet on June 12, 2018.

This article originally appeared on our sister website Travel Wire Asia.