The so-called "de-militarized zone" between South Korea and North Korea (who are technically still at war) is devoid of any human habitation or activity, and has been for about 50 years. As a result, this space -- 250 kilometers long, 4 kilometers wide -- has become home to a staggering array of rare plants and animals, including the highly endangered red-crown crane. Bruce Sterling wrote about the DMZ as an "involuntary park" a couple of times on his Viridian mailing list, and it's back in the news now.
Reunification between the Koreas remains a stated goal of both governments, and it's hard to imagine the North Korean regime remaining in its current brutal stasis indefinitely. At the very least, global climate disruption may well aggravate the poor harvests and famine that are already too common there, and the question of North Korean nuclear weapons development remains a global concern. In short, there's every reason to believe that the Koreas may reunify (or, at least, adopt a more peaceful and open relationship) within the next decade. When that happens, the DMZ will go away. So what happens to the "involuntary park?"
Ted Turner (yes, that Ted Turner) wondered, too, but is in a position to do something about it.
Turner has proposed that the DMZ be turned into a massive wildlife preserve, and has offered substantial (but unspecified) financial support for the project. The Korea Times quotes Turner as saying:
"This is a unique environmental and ecological treasure and we believe that people from all over the world will come and see it,’’ he said, adding the area’s potential for tourism is "very high.’’
Of course, for the DMZ to become a park open to tourists, it will have to be cleared of landmines. The DMZ holds upwards of 2 million landmines, some dating back to the Korean War. Progress to clear them is sporadic and limited.
Turner's not alone in this proposal. Representative Curt Sheldon (R.Pa) is also on board, as are an assortment of biologists from both South Korea and the United States.
Befor reunification, Germany had a similar
"involuntary park". Here's an article about
the "green ribbon":