Core point: The Korean DMZ is the most heavily armed border in the world.
The recent raid by a North Korean soldier through the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas has shown how difficult it is to get from one Korea to another. Fortifications, mines and patrols by soldiers on both sides, fortifications and a large concentration of ready-to-fight troops make the Korean DMZ the deadliest place in the world in the event of war.
The current line of demarcation between North and South Korea was established by the Korean ceasefire agreement of July 1953. The two sides agreed on a demilitarized zone about 2.5 miles wide and about 160 miles long that bisects the peninsula. Technically speaking, there is no “border” because neither Korea really regards the other Korea as an independent country, nor has the DMZ de facto become a border. Although commonly referred to as the thirty-eighth parallel line, the DMZ actually falls under the thirty-eighth parallel in the west and goes above it in the east.
North of the DMZ, the Korean People’s Army is responsible for the DMZ. (Although there is a Border Guard Office, it only protects the borders with China and Russia.) North Korea has put in place a series of fortifications and defense structures to prevent South Korean forces from crossing the border. An electrified fence spans the entire length of the DMZ, along with minefields littered with anti-personnel mines. The KPA has also built a series of towers to watch out for South Korean incursions.
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