The Korean Peninsula possesses one of most unusual, and arguably the most unintentional, wildlife reserve of all time: the famous Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ for short. Created in the armistice that suspended the Korean War, this strip of frontier land between the north and south has been effectively devoid of people since the early 1950s. As a result, it became a defacto natural wildlife reserve that conservationists are now eager to protect permanently.
In 1953, the three year long war in Korean came to a screeching halt by an act of armistice. Although the war technically has yet to end, the armistice border which was set in place has been maintained for over six decades. This border region, known as the DMZ, consists of a strip of land 4 km wide that runs the across the entire peninsula. Inside this region, where nobody lives, Korea’s wildlife has enjoyed over sixty years of peace in which to become established. It is now considered one of the best preserved temperate wildlife zones on the planet.
The narrow strip of the DMZ was once brutally devastated by war. But after sixty years of being closely hedged in on all sides by fences and military barriers and effectively off limits to people, it is now lush with dense growth and surprisingly pristine habitat. Many species roam the area, including some that are now extinct elsewhere on the peninsula. The region is currently being surveyed, but known animals currently wandering the park include Amur Leopard, Black Bear and Korean Tiger.
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is located on the frontier between North Korea and South Korea, approximately forty miles north of Seoul and ninety miles south of Pyongchang. As of this writing the region was strictly off limits to visitors, but that may change in the future. Web: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr (official tourism website of South Korea).
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