The demilitarized zone (DMZ) in South Korea, somewhat misnamed with guards and soldiers all along it, has become a major tourist destination on both sides, North and South Korea, according to Reuters.
The DMZ was established 60 years ago and is the world's most heavily guarded border.
However, the tourist shops lining the border are not set up to frighten or intimidate, unless it is to intimidate people from their money. Shops sell DMZ t-shirts, chocolates, baseball caps and pieces of what are supposed to be authentic barbed wire mounted on ceramic tiles. North Korean uniforms and alcohol are also available.
"The middle-aged tourists that come here like buying the clothes for their kids," Cho Hyang Hwa, an ethnic Korean Chinese citizen who works at a shop along the border told Reuters.
Near the gun-wielding soldiers there is also an amusement park ride where children swing back and forth on a pendulum. The ride is called the Super Viking and serves as the flagship of Peace Land, a small theme park that has views of North Korea. The ride is accompanied by pop music.
"I'm surprised to see how different the atmosphere is from what I expected," Park Kyung-doo, a student from South Korea, said. "It's good for the tourists but, as a person who came to see and learn about North Korea, I don't really feel satisfied."
The north side of the border also has tourism but to a lesser degree. The major landmark for the area is a 175-yard flagpole that is taller than the one in South Korea's small town of Freedom Village.
The DMZ was built along the 38th parallel and was drawn in 1953 to end the fighting between the two areas of Korea that is still technically in a state of war. The demilitarized zone is four kilometers wide.
There is even an area where visitors can stand with one foot in each Korea, such as in one of the blue United Nations hut, where a table is set up sitting on the border.
Video footage of the DMZ.
This article is copyrighted by Travelers Today, the travel news leader