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South Korean Soldiers Hold Hands When They Open These Doors, and For Good Reason

The demilitarized zone (DMZ) is a peculiar place at the heart of one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints — the Korean Peninsula. At the DMZ, there are several doors that makes the South Koreans anxious.

Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to the DMZ Monday to stare into North Korea, a source of multiple provocations in recent weeks. The vice president warned North Korea that it “would do well not to test Trump’s resolve,” pointing to American strikes in Syria and Afghanistan.

(This first appeared in The Daily Caller here.)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also visited the DMZ during his recent visit to Asia. While there, he stressed that military action against North Korea is “an option.”

Located along the DMZ, in the joint security area, are rarely-used conference facilities for meetings between the North and the South. When the South Koreans open the doors, they are always cautious. They reportedly hold hands to keep from being pulled into the North by aggressive North Korean soldiers, according to Business Insider.

North Korean soldiers are rumored to have snatched South Korean guards before. In addition to holding hands, the soldiers also rely on tethers and other options. North Korea systematically kidnapped South Korean and Japanese citizens for many years.

Although North and South Korea are not in a state of open conflict, the Korean War never ended. The 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement divided the country along the 38th parallel and created the DMZ.

The DMZ is a highly-militarized strip of land 160 miles long and 2.5 miles wide, filled with fences and concrete barriers, mines, and nervous troops with their fingers on the trigger. Hundreds of South Korean, North Korean, and U.S. troops were killed in skirmishes along the DMZ in the 1960s, and there have been a number of smaller incidents since.

In the joint security area, only a small concrete barrier separates a brutal dictatorship from a flourishing democracy.

In recent weeks, the U.S. and South Korea have been drilling for a possible military contingency on the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea has been testing weapons, as well as firing them off in rehearsals for strikes on enemy bases. Tensions are especially high as there is a possibility the North will test a nuclear weapon in the near future.

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