- Title: Fairy tale supplants nightmare at South Koreaâ€™s militarised border town
- Date: 26th July 2017
- Summary: PAJU, SOUTH KOREA (RECENT - JULY 14, 2017) (REUTERS) NORTH KOREAN TERRITORY SEEN ACROSS RIVER FROM SOUTH KOREAN SIDE / CARS PASSING ON SOUTH KOREAN ROAD CARS PASSING ROAD SIGN DIRECTING TOWARDS PYONGYANG AND GAESEONG (KAESONG) IN NORTH KOREA, AND IMJINGAK AND PAJU IN SOUTH KOREA BARBED-WIRE FENCE ON ROAD AND CARS PASSING CARS PASSING ON ROAD AND ROAD SIGN DIRECTING TOWARD IMJINGAK, AND PAJU PREMIUM OUTLETS / SIGNBOARD OF 'PAJU PREMIUM OUTLETS' BEHIND TREES EXTERIOR OF SHOPPING MALL 'PAJU PREMIUM OUTLETS' SHOPPERS WALKING AROUND SHOPPING MALL VARIOUS OF SHOPPERS SITTING IN SHADE OF PARASOL BOY WALKING AROUND WATER FOUNTAIN SHOPPERS WALKING AROUND SHOPPING MALL MOTHER AND BABY SITTING ON HUGE TEDDY BEAR, POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPH (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 30-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN RESIDENT, PARK CHOL-MIN, SAYING "I think it's more of a show or performance. (North Korea) doesn't really intend to endanger us but is just provoking, so I don't feel a big threat." PAJU, SOUTH KOREA (RECENT - JULY 17, 2017) (REUTERS) THEMED VILLAGE NAMED AFTER FRANCE'S 'PROVENCE' SEEN FROM ABOVE PEOPLE WALKING ON STREETS OF PROVENCE STAR-SHAPED DECORATIONS HANGING PEOPLE WALKING ON STREETS OF THEMED VILLAGE SOUTH KOREAN FAMILY GATHERED TOGETHER (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) 41-YEAR-OLD SOUTH KOREAN RESIDENT, KIM KI-DEOK, SAYING: "If North Korea really wants to, it can fire missiles further away. So I don't think the distance is such a problem. I think we are safe."
- Embargoed: 9th August 2017 01:30
- Keywords: ICBM missile border shopping mall North Korea South Korea Paju bunker fairy tale village
- Location: PAJU, PANMUNJOM, DEMILITARIZED ZONE, SOUTH KOREA/ UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, JANGJAE ISLET, NORTH KOREA
- City: PAJU, PANMUNJOM, DEMILITARIZED ZONE, SOUTH KOREA/ UNIDENTIFIED LOCATION, JANGJAE ISLET, NORTH KOREA
- Country: Various
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA0016RCSK05
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: VIDEO CONTAINS EDITED KRT MATERIAL
Half an hour's drive north of Seoul along a highway lined with barbed wire are two shopping malls, the size of several football stadiums, a stone's throw from the world's most militarised border.
The malls are in the city of Paju, gateway to the U.N. truce village of Panmunjom, where military officers from the combatants of the 1950-53 Korean war discuss armistice matters -- when the two sides are on speaking terms, which they aren't these days.
"Fairy tales come true in Paju", is the advertising lure from the Korean Tourism Board. But it was nightmares that were all too true here during the Korean war, when Paju featured some of its fiercest battles. Paju is home to the country's only "enemy's cemetery", where the remains of Chinese and North Korean soldiers are buried.
That's all but forgotten history now. About a dozen children jump and scream around a fountain inside a mall on a sizzling, July summer day. Nearby the mall is a themed village named after France's tourism centre of Provence, restaurants, bakeries and clothing shops are decorated like a children's playbook
Paju, indeed, shows little signs of the tensions that have arisen since North Korea marked the U.S. July 4th holiday with a successful test of what it said was an intercontinental range ballistic missile.
The missile test prompted the United States and South Korea this month to conduct air force bomber exercises in the skies near here.
South Koreans have long grown accustomed to living in a doomsday scenario, one that includes up to 10,000 artillery guns pointed toward the South and capable at any moment, in the words of North Korea's propaganda machine, of turning Seoul into a "sea of fire" and a "pile of ashes."
For regular weekenders, it's all nothing more than empty threats.
Paju stepped up North Korea-related tourism in the 2000s, when liberal governments launched a "Sunshine Policy" of engagement with North Korea. Foreigners and locals flocked to Panmunjom to see stony-faced North Korean soldiers on guard and buy souvenirs of the war.
It looks like the war memories have faded away, but, they are still vivid for 74-year-old Woo Jong-il, who lives in a small village of Manu-ri, just south of the Imjin river that divides the two Koreas.
Woo built a bunker in his backyard, one of several residents in Manu-ri who did so in the early 1970s, when bullets fired from North Korea wounded several in his village and damaged a house next door. The dark basement shelter is just big enough to accommodate his seven family members.
The Korean war, in which the United States fought alongside South Korea and China with the North, ended in a truce that has yet to be replaced by a peace agreement and has left the two sides technically at war.
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