The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South Korea and North Korea

Seminar Paper, 2006

14 Pages, Grade: A+



I. Introduction
1.1 Main Topic
1.2 Purpose of the Paper

II. Main Part
2.1 Basic Facts about Korea
2.2 The Separation of North and South Korea
2.3 The Demilitarized Zone

III. Conclusion


I. Introduction

1.1 Main Topic

The task of the seminar paper was to pick one place or theme to explore. Due to the fact that this course is about the geography of Korea, the Demilitarized Zone was chosen, which separates North Korea and South Korea. This place is especially interesting for German people because for nearly 40 years one of the most obvious cases of spatial segregation through ideologies was Germany’s separation manifested in the Berlin Wall.

1.2 Purpose of the Paper

Due to taking this course from abroad, it must be said that here in Germany it is very hard to find books concerning Korean geography and Korea in general, even only one actual visitors' guide for South Korea exists. Thus, the books used are written in German and a lot of sources for this paper are taken from the Internet. The aim of this paper is to give an overview over the most important aspects related to the Demilitarized Zone. Therefore, in the main part some basic facts about South and North Korea will be introduced, followed by an analysis of the zone itself, which is separated in two parts. The first part deals with the history of the separation of the Koreas, while the second part describes the location. At the end of the paper a conclusion will be drawn.

II. Main Part

2.1 Basic Facts about Korea

After World War II the Soviet Union and the Western allies divided up Korea. After the Korean War, the country remained separated into North and South Korea, both exist as sovereign states today. But there is still one Korean people on the Korean Peninsula, just one nation divided into two different countries, which are the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), which will be introduced shortly.

The Republic of Korea also known as South Korea is a country in Eastern Asia, located in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula bordering to North Korea, the East Sea (or Sea of Japan) and the Yellow Sea. The country’s area is 98,480 km² and its population counts 48,422,644 (estimated July 2005) inhabitants of which 4% live below the line of poverty. The ethnicity is (apart from about 20,000 Chinese) homogeneous. 26% of the Koreans are Christians, 26% Buddhists, 1% Confucians, and 1% have other faiths, while 46% are non-affiliated. The country is divided into 9 provinces and 7 metropolitan cities. South Korea is the 12th largest economy and its most important industries are electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding and steel. The currency is the South Korean won (KRW) and the inflation rate is about 2.8%. The climate in mostly of hills and mountains with its wide coastal plains in the western and southern part consisting country, the most time of the year is moderate, although it can come to heavy rainfalls in summer.[1]

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is the northern half of the Korean Peninsula and borders to South Korea, the East Sea, the Korea Bay, Russia and China. The area is with its 120,540 km² bigger than South Korea’s but the population is only estimated to be 22,912,177. Climate is temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer.

The country mostly consists of hills and mountains, which are separated by deep narrow valleys. In the western part are wide coastal plains, in the east these are discontinuous. Ethnicity is racially homogenous and about religion no percentage numbers exist but most are Buddhists or Confucians. The communist state is divided up into 9 provinces and 4 municipalities. The country faces desperate economic conditions and citizens suffer from immense and long-lasting food shortages. The Currency is the North Korean won (NKW), while dates such as the inflation rate are unknown.[2]

There are two different ways South Korea is shown on maps, which can be seen as the Korean and the Western view. The Korea-specific map is a world-map showing Asia in the center, which is totally atypical for maps of Western countries, where Europe and Africa are in the middle of the map instead. There is also no separation into North and South Korea drawn on this map, not even the demarcation line. Other versions of the Korean map show a line but do not mention different states. Thus, in the Korean-specific map, a unified Korea exists, covering the whole peninsula. For sure, South Korea is the only country with such a world-map, but one has to consider that this is not the common one and just found occasionally in South Korea. Nevertheless, this is a very culturally significant point as it shows that the country is not entirely adapting Western views and ideas. In contrast, the map of Korea in the Western view places Asia at the right side of the world-map and Korea divided into two sovereign states – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.

2.2 The Separation of North and South Korea

With the division in two different countries Korea shares a similar history to Germany – until now without happy end. Through ideologies North Korea and South Korea are separated; a Stalinist dictatorship on the one side stands against the democracy on the other. This part describes how it came to the separation of Korea after World War II.

In November 1943 Roosevelt, Churchill and Chiang Kai-shek met in Cairo and decided that Japan should lose all of the territories it had occupied by force. In the following declaration Korea for the first time was mentioned, insofar, that these three countries agreed that Korea should be free and independent – in due course.[3] At the war conferences in 1944/45 Korea, represented by Syngman Rhee from the exiled government, was assured independence. On August 10th, 1945 there was a meeting of commissions of the US Ministry of the Exterior, the Ministry of War and the Ministry of Marines. As part of this meeting, two officers, Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel, were given the task to develop a plan how to divide the Korean peninsula. The time allotted was thirty minutes and both had little knowledge of the area, thus, they used a simple map to separate Korea by splitting it exactly in two equal parts along the 38th parallel north. The division was decided before the Japanese empire officially surrendered on August 15th, 1945. According to an agreement, Soviet troops occupied the northern territory and the US troops south of the 38th parallel. The US established a military government, while in the north the communists, under Kim Il-Sung, became the new leaders of the country. Formerly he fought for the Chinese resistance against Japan and fled to the USSR in 1941, where he became member of the Red Army and even reached the rank of a captain.[4]




[3] Hoo-Nam Seelmann, Die Chance, die es nicht geben durfte – Der Kalte Krieg war schneller: Wie es nach 1945 zur Teilung Koreas kam, on:

[4] Schmid, B; Josef, D. (1987): Korea, 1st edition, Luzern: Reich Verlag, p. 74.

Excerpt out of 14 pages


The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South Korea and North Korea
Ewha Womans University  (International Cyber University)
Geography of Korea
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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414 KB
Demilitarized, Zone, South, Korea, North, Korea, Geography, Korea
Quote paper
Diplom-Kaufmann, M.A. Marco Alexander Caiza Andresen (Author), 2006, The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between South Korea and North Korea, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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