Before he enlisted in the military last May, Lee Min Ho spent many times over a period of one-and-a-half years with a production team in documenting wildlife inside Korea’s Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which has remained inaccessible to the public for more than 60 years.
Lee Min Ho acted as presenter for the MBC TV documentary series “DMZ, the Wild,” which aired its prologue in April followed by three episodes in June. An epilogue will be aired on July 15. The crew began filming in the DMZ in October 2015 and it lasted until the first quarter this year.
The DMZ, which stretches about 248 km in length and 4 km in width, and was established under the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953 to separate North and South Korea.
In the documentary, Lee Min Ho and the crew showed the wildlife in the DMZ including wild boars, mountain goats, snakes, deers and birds.
Braving freezing temperatures which reached up to minus 20 degrees, Lee Min Ho spent day and night with the crew for the documentary. He also met South Korean soldiers guarding the DMZ 24/7.
Following the TV documentary, Lee Min Ho will release a photo book titled “DMZ, The Records of 500 Days” on July 10.
A photo exhibit featuring the actor will also be held from July 7 to Aug. 31 at the MBC headquarters in Seoul.
While the places visited by Lee Min Ho are strictly off limits, tourists can experience the DMZ by going to other sites.
They can visit the 3rd Tunnel, Dorasan Station, Dora Observatory and Imjingak Resort in Paju, Gyeonggi Province.
The 3rd Tunnel, or Third Infiltration Tunnel, built by North Korea, was discovered by South Korean forces in 1978. It is 1.6 km in length and its location is 52 km from Seoul.
Tourists can visit the sites including the tunnel through government-approved tours and are required bring their passports as these are checked by the South Korean military before the bus leaves.
From Imjingak, tourists will board the buses (no private tours allowed) that will take them to the 3rd Tunnel, observatory and Dorasan Station.
Tourists are required to wear safety helmets before boarding the monorail that will go into the tunnel, which is 1.6 km in length, only 2m in height and 2m in width. No photography is allowed in the tunnel.
From there, they will be taken to the Dorasan Station, which is designed to connect North and South Korea by train in the future and is located 56 km from Seoul and 205 km from Pyeongyang, North Korea, according to the Korea Tourism Organization.
At the observatory, one can see a part of North Korea including Kaesong and the so-called propaganda village.
At Imjingak, numerous war relics are displayed including a steam locomotive at Jangdan Station that was derailed by bombs during the Korean War and has more than 1,200 bullet holes.
While the DMZ illustrates the painful division of the two Koreas, others see it as a symbol of peace and hope for unification.
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