Art and Peace, turn Korean DMZ into a symbol of Peace.
Korea is the only divided country in the world and cultural and ideological confrontation exist as the tension between the South and North Korea.
On July 27, 1953, when the Korean War remained locked in a stalemate, the United States, China and the former Soviet Union established a ceasefire line on the 38th parallel that cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half. The 240-kilometer-long ceasefire line soon changed into the Military Demarcation Line, and South and North Korea reserved 2 kilometers each south and north of the line, creating a 4-kilometer-wide strip of land that was designated the Demilitarized Zone(DMZ).
In February 1954, under the authority of a U.S. army commander, an invisible line called the "civilian passage restriction line" was drawn along the area within 5 to 20 kilometers south of the DMZ's southern boundary for the protection of military exercises around the borderline and military facilities, as well as security.
Following the establishment of the "civilian passage restriction line," the activities of civilians within the area were strictly controlled. In the 1990s, the South Korean government took a step to reduce the restricted area by moving the southern boundary of the area upward. As a result, the number of residents affected by the ban decreased from 37,000 in 111 villages to 18,000 in 60 villages. In 2001, the government announced a set of rules to ease restrictions on residents in the area.
As part of the move, residents were allowed to farm in the area after going through the necessary procedures outlined in the law on protection of military facilities.
Indeed, in stark contrast to its name, the 4-kilometer-long DMZ is a heavily guarded area where hundreds of thousands of mines are buried.
Under the inter-Korean agreement to reconnect the Gyeonguiseon rail line linking Seoul in South Korea with Sinuiju in North Korea, on September 18, 2000 South Korea began clearing the mines in the 80-meter-wide, 12-kilometer-long strip in the DMZ where there rail and road are supposed to be built.
More than 100,000 mines were cleared, taking up about 35 percent of the total construction cost of the railway project, estimated at $ 1.5 billion.
Nevertheless, the DMZ and surrounding area within the civilian passage restriction line have remained untouched by humans for decades and are blessed with an abundance of flora and fauna that can be found only in ecology books. It's hard to believe that the land was totally destroyed by gunfire during the Korean War.
The Korean artists hope to awaken the public to the importance of peace and the environment, as well as give a message of hope to future generations by hosting diverse cultural events in locations near the DMZ, a symbol of the tragic history of Korea as a divided nation.
Artist Jae-eun Choi, who participated in the 15th Venice Biennale architecture exhibition by creating artworks with the hope of peace in the DMZ, a symbol of the 70-year history of division, paradoxically created an ecosystem in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Cheorwon, a symbol of the division of North and South Korea.
Based on the fact that it has become a conservation area, we have been planning a 'hanging garden' project across the DMZ for several years.
The 'Hanging Garden' is a 13km round-trip walking path that floats 3~6m above the ground using only bamboo and natural materials. It protects humans from landmines buried in the DMZ, protects nature from humans, and induces ecological coexistence.
Currently, there are a number of mines buried in the DMZ, which are estimated to take 489 years to clear. Thirteen hanging gardens will be installed in the middle of the pedestrian path, a 20m high observation tower 'Wind Tower' near the military demarcation line, and a seed bank and ecosystem library for storing endangered plant seeds at both ends of the pedestrian path.
It is a concept for a large-scale installation that looks at the supernatural ecosystem that has not been touched by humans in the DMZ and captures the meaning of division recovery.
Myungja Anna Koh