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The 4km-wide, 240km-long buffer known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) slashes across the peninsula, separating North and South Korea. Lined on both sides by tank traps, electrical fences, landmines and armies in full battle readiness, it is one of the scariest places on earth. It is also one of the most surreal since it has become a major tourist attraction with several observatories allowing you to peek into North Korea (aka the DPRK; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). For history buffs and collectors of weird and unsettling experiences, a visit here is not to be missed.
The place most people want to go is the Joint Security Area (JSA), 55km north of Seoul, inside of which is the truce village of Panmunjeom – there’s nowhere else in South Korea where you can get so close to North Korea and DPRK soldiers without being arrested or shot, and the tension is palpable.
The only way into this heavily restricted area is on an organized tour. To visit the JSA you’ll need to bring your passport. Note citizens of certain countries are not allowed on these tours. There are also strict dress and behavioral codes; usually collared shirts for men, and no ripped jeans, revealing clothing or open-toed shoes. Alcohol consumption is also prohibited. Only children over 10 years are permitted.