Panmunjom: Cold War’s Last Tourist Attraction With AM-After the Cold War
PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) _ For those who missed Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, there’s still time to get a front-row view of the Cold War before it completely fades from memory.
Come to Panmunjom.
You’ll pass an antitank wall, a live mine field and a double barbed-wire fence on your way to this truce village on the border that divides the Korean peninsula into a capitalist South and communist North.
Once you are in Panmunjom, which is centered on three long, blue buildings where meetings between the two sides often take place, North Korean soldiers across the border will monitor your every move through high-powered binoculars.
For your protection, South Korean soldiers expert in martial arts and carrying sidearms will stand at the ready, fists clinched, legs slightly apart, eyes fixed on the enemy just yards away.
Visitors traveling to Panmunjom from South Korea must read and sign a declaration that speaks of the ″possibility of injury or death as a direct result of enemy action.″
After the 45-minute tour, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop and bar at the nearby U.S. base, where you can relax and buy Panmunjom baseball caps and other souvenirs.
About 100,000 foreign tourists visited Panmunjom in 1991 and just as many are expected this year.
During the Cold War, there were several attacks in Panmunjom, including the murders in 1976 murders of two U.S. Army officers on a landscaping detail by about 30 North Koreans wielding pipes and axes.
Things still happen, usually away from Panmunjom, but ″incidents are getting further and further apart,″ said Army Specialist John D. Hill, based at Camp Bonifas near the truce village.
Although four decades have passed since the Korean War, the two sides have yet to sign a peace treaty. Until that happens, said Chung Tae-ik of South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, ″we cannot say the Cold War is over.″