Guarding Freedom’s Frontier
Emblems of a free world
A Country Divided
At the end of World War II following Japan’s surrender on
September 1, 1945, Japanese forces were removed from the
Korean peninsula.  American forces then occupied the southern
half from the thirty-eighth latitude parallel while the Soviet Union
held the north.  Elections for a same-kind government were
declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947.  On
May 10, 1948, the south elected a national assembly that set up
the Republic of Korea.  Although the Soviet Union opposed the
election, the North Korean Communists later established the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on September 9.  Both
governments claimed dominion over the peninsula.  The United
States removed American troops from South Korea in 1949 and in
early 1950 indicated that the peninsula lay outside the main U.S.
defense line in Asia.  The Communists took full advantage of this
change with military action.

A Military Demarcation Line
On June 25, 1950 troops from Communist-ruled North Korea
crossed the thirty-eighth parallel and invaded South Korea.  After
three years of bloody undeclared war, peace talks originated at
Kaesong and then resumed at Panmunjom.  Both Koreas agreed
upon a cease-fire that ended hostilities with an Armistice or
Peace Treaty on July 27, 1953.  A Military Demarcation Line (MDL)
centered within a two-and-a-half-mile wide (four kilometer) buffer
zone known as The Demilitarized Zone or DMZ  was agreed upon
where the fighting ended.  Military forces under the flag of the
United Nations remained in South Korea to discourage
resumption of hostilities.  (In 1954 both governments met in
Geneva, Switzerland, and did not agree on permanent peace or

The Demilitarized Zone
The two-and-a-half-mile wide DMZ traverses the entire breadth of
Korea from the Sea of Japan and T-Bones the Imjin River at The
Western Corridor.  The Imjin River then empties into the Han
River forming the Han River Estuary which then empties into to
the Yellow Sea as the DMZ.  The Military Demarcation line (MDL)
runs all along the DMZ’s center on land and river.

The South Tape
The Ribbon or The Tape--originally surveyor's tape followed by
single barb wire strand--is the name of the wooden fence
followed by chain link fence that ran all along the southern
boundary or length of the DMZ.     
                                                             Photo by SP4 Guy Collins, 1967
The Tape is wood as shown in this first of two photos.
                                                             Photo by SP4 Guy Collins, 1967  
The Tape is steel as shown in this second photo.

Guarding the Frontier
                                                                              Map contributed by SP4 Martinez
The broken line is the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) that centers a
two-and-a-half mile wide Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).  The Thirty-eighth degree
latitude parallel traverses Korea just above Panmunjom.  The Imjin River flows
south from North Korea, crosses the DMZ, and circumvents the Spoonbill military
sector while passing MunsanNi, then it empties into the Han River on its way to
the Yellow Sea.  The Western Corridor runs from Seoul to Pyongyang.       
The Western Corridor
The Western Corridor or The Bowling Alley is a lowland within
this mountainous Asiatic peninsula that runs from Pyongyang in
North Korea to Seoul in South Korea and thus the traditional
invasion route.  The DMZ crosses the thirty-eighth parallel at The
Western corridor.  The Imjin River, with its origin in North Korea
near the Sea of Japan, flows southwest and then due south.  The
river then crosses the DMZ (the MDL within) and the 38th parallel
at the corridor and flows into the Han River that empties at the
Yellow Sea.
                                                         Map modified by SP4 Martinez, BLV 1965
The Western Corridor, a lowland and traditional invasion route from Pyongyang in
North Korea to Seoul, South Korea.   The broken line that separates both Koreas
is the MDL, the Military Demarcation Line.  Note the 38th Parallel.

North of the River
North of the Imjin River but south of the DMZ is a military sector
(among others) known as Spoonbill.  Libby and Freedom were the
two familiar bridges to local troops respectively.  These would be
the only sources of escape or of restraining an advancing enemy
(perhaps kamikaze?) in case of invasion.  If the life expectancy of
the troops south of the Imjin was less than fifteen minutes, one
can only conclude the life expectancy of soldiers stationed north
of the river.
                                                                                 Map provided by SP4 Martinez, BLV 1965
This map shows Kaesong where the Peace Talks originated and Panmunjon
where peace was concluded in 1953.  The area within the orange and blue lines is
the Demilitarized Zone with the black center being the MDL (Military Demarcation
Line).  The blue line defines The Tape or The Ribbon.  Note Freedom Village within
the DMZ. Propaganda Village is a mock Hollywood prop setup to impress viewers,
TambangDong is located within the area known as Spoonbill.  Observe that the
military sector north of the Imjin River and south of the DMZ is perhaps three
miles to the Libby and Freedom, the only escape routes in case of invasion.   
The Freedom Bridge
Photo by Lynn Zolnoski, April 2004
The Bridge of No Return
Photo by Lynn Zolnoski, April 2004
Libby Bridge
Photo by Lynn Zolnoski, April 2004
Propaganda Village, North Korea
Photo by Lynn Zolnoski, April 2004
Freedom Village
                                                                                             Photo by SP4 Guy Collins, 1967
South Korean farmers harvest and thresh rice crops near their home of
DaeseongDong, known as Freedom Village, located south of MDL and north of the
tape and thus within the DMZ.   The village of DaesongDong is the only South
Korean village within the DMZ south of the MDL.  Note U.S. Army infantry
protecting Freedom Villager’s rights.

Freedom’s Frontier
These multiple intersections—a political border (the MDL), an
imaginary latitude parallel (the 38th), a military buffer zone (the
DMZ) and a fence (The Tape): that traverse a lowland length (The
Western Corridor) and a mile-wide river (the Imjin)—were home to
The First Cavalry Division, followed by the Second Infantry
Division.  These U.S. Army units were preceded by The First
Marine Division and the 24th Infantry Division, and it was these
first two units that laid the ground work for DMZ patrols, and who
built many of the bunkers and guard posts used by the our
succeeding units.  All divisions served under the flag of the
United Nations.  This then, was the multi-junction military
strategic sector where troops remained following the Korean
Conflict of 1950-1953
Guarding Freedom’s Frontier.

                                                              SP4 Julio Martinez
                                        BLV 1965

Recommended reading:  National Geographic, July 2003, pp 2-27