Off-Limits to Humans, Korea’s Demilitarized Zone Sees Wildlife Flourish

Feb 28, 2023

Stretching along the border between South and North Korea , the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) stands as a reminder of ongoing tensions between the two countries. Barbed wire and signs warning of landmines ward all human activity away from the 160-mile long buffer zone, but first-ever street view images posted by Google last week show that the stretch is filled with life.

“We call the region an accidental paradise,” Seung-ho Lee, president of the DMZ Forum, told CNN.

The images were published to mark the 70th anniversary of the armistice that ended the violence of the Korean War. Google satellites took the pictures. So did remote cameras. The cameras show an ecologically diverse habitat. There, thanks to a lack of people, plants and animals have thrived. Researchers have found over 6,100 species in the photos and videos. Those include wildcats, otters, and golden eagles. 

Of the Korean peninsula’s 267 endangered species, 38% live in the DMZ, according to Google. Users can access the Street View app to the area in search of wildlife.

Ecologists want to keep studying the area. They want to make sure it stays preserved. Attempts to do so, though, will mean that North and South Korea will need to work together. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared the DMZ a “peace zone” in 2018. His stance might have changed. North Korea has made many missile tests in the past few years. There are also reports that North Korea is researching nuclear weapons. That's hurting the diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

Photo from Reuters. 

Which of the following ideas or topics is highlighted throughout the story? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. conservationism
b. the Korean War
c. the protection of endangered species
d. the Demilitarized Zone
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