The Demilitarized Zone (or the DMZ, as it is more commonly called) is the 241km-long (150-mile) strip of land that separates North and South Korea. It has served as a buffer zone since the signing of the 1953 cease-fire agreement that ended the fighting during the Korean War (although the war itself has officially never ended). Located near the 38th parallel, it cut the peninsula roughly in half but separated the natural resources (in the north) from the breadbasket (in the south). Surrounded by barbed wire and untouched by humans for over 50 years, the area has become an unintentional wildlife refuge, as migrating birds and other wildlife thrive here.

Inside the DMZ, near the western coast of the peninsula, is Panmunjeom, which lies outside the jurisdiction of either North or South Korea. Located 62km (39 miles) northwest of Seoul and 215km (134 miles) south of Pyongyang, this was where cease-fire talks were held during the Korean War. At the time, it was only a tiny place with four straw-roofed houses and a couple of temporary buildings and barracks. Officially called the Joint Security Area (JSA), the name "Panmunjeom" came from the name of a store nearby (jeom means "small store" in Korean). Over a thousand meetings were held within a period of just over 2 years, before the armistice agreement was signed here by the U.N. forces, the North Korean army, and the Chinese army (the Republic of Korea refused to take part).

You can visit Panmunjeom from 9am to 2:30pm Monday through Saturday by tour only. Visits by individuals to Panmunjeom are not allowed.