Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Sleeping with the enemy - DMZ

Several recent posts supposed to be about G20 related stuff and the economy. But sometimes more important things pop up and nothing can be done about that.

Today North Korea shot 200 shells at the South Korean Yeongpyeong island  injuring 13 people and killing one and putting several dozens homes on fire.

Apart from sinking the Cheonan fregate that was the most important incident since the Korean War. Rising tensions in the region are caused by current power shift in North Korea where supposedly ill Kim Jong Il is trying to put his youngest son as a heir to the regime.

Last Monday I talked to colonel Ulf Persson who works at the Swedish base at Pammunjom. As we exchanged several diplomatic remarks as on such banquet occasions is normal, the colonel joked: "We are sleeping with the enemy".

Although for an average tourist DMZ is nothing special. The possibility of war apparently was so misty that South Korean business invented DMZ brand. Gadjets with DMZ, DMZ cola, DMZ t-shirts sell out very well among tourists who go for a trip to Panmunjom.

Despite that, chaos in the North is apparent. For many years status quo relied on simple exchange: we don't hurt you and you feed us in reward. North Korea was blackmailing doing something small from time to time and receiving economic aid as part of Sunshine Policy of the South government. So on one hand everyone earns money on anything they can and on the other those who have to be aware are aware and the silent tension of warzone is present in the air.

Now it is no longer that sure whether the game has still the same rules. It seems like there is some chaos in the North related to power shift. It is enough that small thing happens between fighting fractions and the war is ready.

The irony of fate is that DMZ is the only genuine ecosystem habitat in the entire penninsula. If the North and South is ever reunited this area might be one of the biggest National Parks in the world, and one of the only in this particular area, where development had paved everything in concrete across hundreds of kilometers. Typical irony of fate shows that where people can't boost, nature does, taking advantage of human hostilities.

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