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Pamunjom

 

Korea has been much in the news recently. When the Cold War was perhaps not at its hottest, but when the temperature was raised a degree or two by Ronald Reagan, I visited the DMZ which is only about forty miles from Seoul. It is two mile wide area of fences, guard towers and minefields that stretches across the peninsula but at Pamunjom, a village that has long disappeared, there is a cluster of buildings where the 1953 armistice was signed and which has become the de facto border between the two Koreas. Nearby is the biggest flagpole in the world; no prizes for guessing which side it belongs to.


I don’t know what goes on there now, but then we were ushered into a room that straddles the border - bare apart from a table in the middle. On opposite walls were soldiers in immaculate uniforms wearing highly polished steel helmets. They were, apparently, chosen for their height. As we watched they shouted at each other across the table. What they were saying was not clear but something along the lines of ‘running dog capitalist lackey’ was the general gist from the north side.


This was the Cold War incarnate – and one of the strangest places on earth.

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