It's hard to imagine the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, the world's most heavily armed border, as anything other than a long, dreary stretch of dangerous terrain. Just last month, a man was killed by South Korean soldiers while attempting to swim into North Korea. It's just the most recent fatal incident along the 150-mile-long DMZ, in place since 1953.
It's a different story in the border city of Paju, South Korea. There, life looks more similar to Niagara Falls than a place of half-century-long political tension.
The tourist-friendly Unification Observator in Paju, South Korea. View Larger Map
Tourists here are more likely to find souvenir stands selling hats and t-shirts emblazoned with "DMZ," or even barbed wire mounted on ceramic tile as a keepsake. Visitors can check out the Unification Observatory, which offers a viewing deck with built-in binoculars and also a mock North Korean classroom. From there, you're just minutes away from amusement rides and go-karts.
Reuters photographer Kim Hong-Ji recently visited the South Korean border city to explore the campier side of a famously tense border:
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