How long had you waited to get access to the DMZ? What did it take to secure the right to visit?
For Koreans, attempts to look into the border area are still a taboo. To enter the DMZ, prior authorisation must be sought from the military command and the army. As a civilian, only designated areas for security tourism are permitted access. The fact that foreign nationals can get permission to visit more easily speaks to the complexity of this space. In the case of the Civilian Control Zone below the DMZ, there is a small inhabited village where only farmers and invited guests can enter. I was guided by an organisation that studies the ecology of the Imjin River that flows through South and North Korea and was allowed to enter this area after identity verification. While it is common that the forest in the DMZ is damaged as the South and North set fires to secure a better view of the other, the ecology is often better preserved inside the Civilian Control Line below the DMZ. The video revolves around Chopyeongdo, an uninhabited region located within the Civilian Control Line, and captures the environment of the surrounding South and North.
The Real DMZ Project
The Real DMX Project is a contemporary art project based on research conducted on the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) in South Korea and its border area. Having begun with a critical perspective on the ironies that surround the Demilitarized Zone, the project has extended its parameters by experimenting not only with new productions and exhibitions but also via dialogue and discussions within the field of the humanities and social sciences. In its first edition in 2012, the project was organized in the form of an exhibition held both in and out of the Civilian Control Zone in Cheorwon County. It has extended its parameters not only geographically to the Art Sonje Center in Seoul, and the establishment of a new artist residency in the former propaganda village of Yangji-ri but also by including talks, workshops, and lectures within the field of the humanities and social sciences. The long-term vision of the Real DMZ Project is to create a platform that not only supports a variety of research methods and exhibition formats, but also ensures that the results are made accessible in open archive.
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The Real DMZ Project’s exhibitions are based on the sites of the security tours: