Image by Megan Eaves / Lonely Planet

The DMZ

The 4km-wide, 240km-long buffer known as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) slashes across the peninsula, separating North and South Korea. Lined on both sides by tank traps, electric fences, landmines and armies in full battle readiness, it's a sinister place where the tension is palpable. Surreally, it's also a major tourist attraction, with several observation points allowing you to peek into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK; North Korea). For history buffs and collectors of weird and unsettling experiences, a visit here is not to be missed.

The place most visitors want to go is the Joint Security Area (JSA), 55km north of Seoul, where North and South meet at the truce village of Panmunjeom – there’s nowhere else in South Korea where you can get so close to DPRK soldiers without being arrested or fired at.

Explore The DMZ

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout The DMZ.