The Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is a region 4 km wide and 240 km long, dividing the Korean Peninsula into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the north and Republic of Korea on the south. The DMZ has come into the spotlight with Donald Trump becoming the first serving American President to visit the area.
The DMZ was created after the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement, which ended the Korean War. The site where the Armistice was signed is called the Joint Security Area (JSA), located 53 km to the north of Seoul. It continues to be the venue where successive peace discussions concerning the region are conducted, including the meeting between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Sunday.
After it was first came into force in 1953, the DMZ has seen multiple skirmishes, but there has been a de-escalation in recent years. In 1968, a commando team from the North crossed over in a widely reported attempt to assassinate the then South Korean President. Relations between the two neighbours have thawed in recent years, with peace agreements signed in 1991 and in 2018. The September 2018 agreement is the most comprehensive so far, with plans to convert the DMZ into a peace park. The pact included an initiative to rid the DMZ of more than 20 lakh landmines that remain embedded there.