When the Korean War ended close to sixty years ago, the two sides agreed to create a four-kilometer demilitarized buffer zone between the two countries, an area that would be without military equipment or anything else. Plenty of soldiers are nearby, of course, but the area has grown into a pristine, untouched environment.
So untouched, in fact, that when author Alan Weisman released the excellent 2007 book The World Without Us, in which he tries to figure out what would happen to the planet if humans just somehow all disappeared one day, he visited the DMZ to get clues of what happens to land that’s gone without human intervention.
That natural image of the DMZ is what South Korea is trying to emphasize in a rebranding effort for what former US President Bill Clinton called "the scariest place on Earth," according to the BBC.
The DMZ, of course, will still exist as per the agreement, but there are several kilometers of land on the South Korean side of the line that butt up against the DMZ that have also gone pretty much untouched. Here is what South Korea is renaming "the Peace and Lie Zone," according to the BBC.
“Up to now," Park Meeja, director of Nature Policy at the Environment Ministry, told the BBC, "the DMZ [area] has been a place of restriction and high security. But by turning this into an eco-tourism zone, I think it will change how people see it. Rather than come to see the world's last divided country, in future we hope that more people will come here to experience the wildlife."
As it is, the DMZ draws about 6.5 million tourists a year who want to see the fences, tunnels, and guard towers for themselves. Now they will have nature trails to hike and help them see the more positive side of life after gaping at the symbols of a war that may be long over, but has never been settled peacefully.