This piece of rather nondescript countryside one hundred and fifty-four miles long and two and half wide manages to produce some fascinating photos of two worlds facing each other. The DMZ is a relic of the Korean War which ended with a truce in 1953 (so North and South Korea are still legally at war) and created this no man's land strip between the countries. Photographer Park Jongwoo was commissioned by a South Korean newspaper to capture the DMZ at its sixtieth anniversary of the start of the war. He mentions in his intro that to take the photos he had to get permission from every military jobsworth involved in the running of the DMZ.
The photos certainly reveal an unusual mix of the natural landscape with miles of barbed wire, sometimes three rolls wide, concrete walls, small square guard posts and huge command posts surrounded by more barbed wire, metal posts and painted in arbitrary colors. They look very temporary but have probably been there for years. One chapter covers Panmunjom (where endless peace talks are held) and it's the only place in the DMZ where both sides actually face each other, mere yards apart, military police control this area with the South Koreans wearing bullet proof helmets and sun glasses while on duty.
Jongwoo spent three years on this commission photographing everything through the changing seasons (and Korea has a significant amount of snow) following regular patrols on land and rivers and as the place has an undisturbed middle there are several photos of wild life free from man but not landmines.
The book is divided into nine chapters, each has a brief essay followed by pages of photos which are mostly spreads, I thought it was a bit unfortunate that single page photos actually butt together in the book's middle. There are no captions because all the photos bleed of the page. The final chapter: The North, has twelve photos of North Korea showing a rather forlorn collection of houses and other buildings plus a shot of their flag flying from the world's tallest flagpole. I was surprised that there was no mention of the roads that cross the border, the Kaesong industrial area has factories paid for by South Korean companies and use North Korean labour to make goods (mostly for China) but South Korean managers regularly travel between the two countries though at the moment travel is banned.
Overall an intriguing book of photos revealing in detail a unique man-made place.