Ok, this might not be a technically striking picture, but you see the white building in the background? That is North Korea.
If you happen to be in Seoul, a 1-day trip to the DMZ can be quite an amazing experience. You must be part of an organized tour, and you should make sure that it includes the Joint Security Area (as the rest of the tour is very crowded and overall not very exciting).
The border (marked by concrete) cuts perfectly in half the two buildings, which are still used for meetings and negotiations between the two countries.
The South Korean soldiers constantly monitor the place, keeping a modified Tae-kwon-do stance with clenched fists.They actually must possess a Tae-kwon-do or Judo black belt to serve here!
They also wear sunglasses, to avoid eye-contact with the soldiers from the other side, and therefore reduce the risk of provocations.
Two of the soldiers stay half-hidden behind the buildings, in order to reduce their visibility from the other side.
On top of the stairs of the white building, you can also see a North Korean soldier. Sometimes they come a lot closer to the line, but I was not so lucky.
When visiting the area, you are not supposed to point to the North, or wave your hand, or respond to any gesture: apparently you are constantly monitored and recorded from the North, and any friendly gesture from the South would be used for internal propaganda.
The visit to this section of the DMZ lasts less than 30 minutes, but the palpable tension makes it extremely intense!
Ok, maybe not as intense as it was for Vasily Matusak, a Soviet citizen who came here as a tourist in 1984 with the idea of defecting to the West: he ran across the border while ~30 North Korean soldiers tried shooting him down. Yes, he made it alive.
EDIT: The blue of the two buildings is, as far as I know, the standard United Nations blue (the one also used for the UN flag and for the helmets of their peacekeeping corps). This is because the UN authorized nations defending the South to use of the UN flag. The unified command structure for the forces supporting the South is indeed called "United Nations Command", although the UN never had any real control over it.
Critiques | Translate
ACL1978 (7511) 2014-02-23 7:33
Hi Alberto - thanks for this, a really nice perspective and an interesting note. You say it's not technically striking but I disagree - the perspective and the positions of the soldiers imply a tension that draws the viewer in really well. I had thought that there was almost always a face-off here, similar to the India-Pakistan border in Kasmir; interesting to learn that's not the case. Thanks!
Noel_Byrne (26101) 2014-02-23 8:34
I have heard of this very place but had never seen it before, so thank you for sharing this in your gallery. You mention the sense of tension here, and I can see it, especially so in the stance of the soldier in the middle. This must surely be a one of a kind place in the world, two totally different worlds of the two Korea's and this is the portal between them.
Interesting that even the path between them changes color at the border.
I wonder how many from North Korea would love to make it across this line.
Thought provoking shot, and a fascinating one too.
worldcitizen (7297) 2014-02-23 11:45
I will probably never see this bizarre scene in person, so I find your photo very interesting. These two countries are so close physically, yet worlds apart in regards to every but geography. I can definitely feel the tension. The bright blue buildings on the southern side really jump out. I wonder why they use such a bright color; it must have some meaning... I also wonder what these soldiers think about as they stand and stare at each other every day. Thanks for sharing this view.
Nicou (126246) 2014-02-24 5:06
avec les trois gardes en premier plan quelle vue et ce deux édiffices bleua qui fond une alleé pour el grand gris en fond sueprbe compo.
Bravo et amitié
Romano46 (18472) 2014-02-24 12:25
sei sempre geniale nelle tue proposte e questa oltretutto è straordinaria perchè non alla portata di tutti, anzi......
In questa mi piace questo particolare bicromatismo abbastanza accentuato, ma soprattutto mi colpisce la presenza dei tre militari che - sarà un caso - sono simili a tre fantocci nella loro immobilità forzata.
A mio parere hai rappresentato molto bene lo spirito surreale che si vive in questa parte del pianeta che mi ricorda, per averlo vissuto in prima persona, quello che era presente al Checkpoint Charlie di Berlino quando il muro divideva in due la città e passare da Berlino Est a Berlino Ovest era un'operazione che poteva richiedere ore.
Non si finisce mai di imparare e di sorprenderci.
Grazie per la bella condivisione.
Ciao e buona serata
batalay (36129) 2014-02-24 21:28
At the outset, I apologize for calling you "Antonio" in my last critique. With the three soldiers standing equidistantly, this is a very dramatic photo. Perhaps you should call the location "North Korea," instead of South. Twenty years ago I was at the border, and I was not allowed to get this close. Standing in a visitors' center and peering across the DMZ is all that was allowed. It's a scary place! But I did go into one of the tunnels dug out by the North Koreans that had just been discovered, and closed off.
Warm regards, and again, I apologize,
Apurba20 (984) 2014-02-24 22:07
This is a very dramatic picture. One can almost see the blood spilling. The way the soldiers stand is striking.
Very interesting picture.
eldancer1 (30012) 2014-02-25 15:51
Wow! It must have been an experience to see this DMZ, it's scary just looking at it I can just imagine what's it like behind those walls. And it's so sad to think that there are people in that country that are suffering. Nice capture with good lighting and nice details. Well done, tfs.
UlfE (14641) 2014-02-28 23:32
It is not always a photo has to be striking to be interesting. However, it is clear that with your excellent note your photo is very interesting. You look closely what is going on and I note that it also is a guard on the North Korean side. I think I also see three cameras. You also wonder how many people are behind the curtains. I could also see that you have worked with composition. All lines are perfect and the guards are inside the frame in their entirety. I do not think it would have been possible to take a better photo than this. TFS and have a nice weekend!
- Copyright: Alberto Revelli (icesurfer) (550)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2013-09-27
- Categories: Decisive Moment
- Camera: Canon 7D, Canon 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM, Hoya 77mm Pro1 Digital UV
- Exposure: f/8, 1/200 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2014-02-23 6:36