Korea, Seoul, DMZ

Note: This is tem­po­r­a­ri­ly only an auto­ma­tic trans­la­ti­on.

Reluc­tant divi­ded coun­try

At the begin­ning of 2014 I was in South Korea in Seo­ul - in the lion’s den (in the deve­lo­p­ment lab of Sam­sung Elec­tro­nics). Here my tra­vel report about some expe­ri­en­ces on the edge.

Korea - mark­ed by the divi­si­on - torn in North and South Korea. In this coun­try tra­di­ti­on and moder­ni­ty unite in a stran­ge way. Here for pro­fes­sio­nal reasons, I have been able to take some snapshots in a few moments asi­de from my obli­ga­ti­ons. Lack of sys­tem came­ra in the lug­ga­ge has my Android smart­phone done. Sor­ry, the pho­tos are not always ele­gant, but infor­ma­ti­ve.

Korea - Seoul
DMZ (Demi­li­ta­ri­zed Zone on the Bor­der bet­ween North & South Korea) (Klick Groß­an­sicht)

In the 24-million metro­po­li­tan area of Seo­ul, I lan­ded on the Yeongjongdo Island in the Yel­low Sea. Over the 12.3-kilometer-long Inche­on Bridge I reach the main­land of the Seo­ul regi­on. By shut­tle bus I reach my hotel in the south of the metro­po­li­tan area. Desti­na­ti­on rea­ched by a bus with free WiFi for the Inter­net. Wide seats - with a seat­belt, of cour­se - make you feel as if you were sit­ting in your TV-set and watch a TV docu­men­ta­ry about Seo­ul.

On the 27th flo­or of my hotel, I look over the city from abo­ve. My first, spon­ta­neous impres­si­ons of Korea and the capi­tal: In the crow­ded giant city - simi­lar to the Tokyo metro­po­li­tan regi­on - I meet very fri­end­ly, hel­pful and hos­pi­ta­ble peo­p­le. This goes hand-in-hand with no hass­le, with a lot of cohe­si­on, tra­di­tio­nal thin­king and a tech­no­lo­gy base in ever­y­day life and sur­roun­dings, which makes Cen­tral Euro­pe com­pa­ra­tively back­ward.

Other­wi­se - dry, magni­fi­cent suns­hi­ne at icy minus­cels. In the midd­le of Janu­ary, Seo­ul is still deco­ra­ted with Christ­mas deco­ra­ti­ons. While the sun is rising in Ger­ma­ny, it is alre­a­dy around 4pm. Go eat some­thing and then go to the cra­te after the long day due to arri­val and time shift. Tomor­row and the next day, the­re is a lot to do for me on a Kore­an han­ger for inno­va­ti­on and tech­no­lo­gy deve­lo­p­ment.

The next day unu­su­al the mid­day lunch. I came to the restau­rant with my Kore­an staff. Ever­yo­ne took off their shoes and went to the good room. All guests sat on the flo­or at about 30 cm high tables. The food was not yet on the table, the­re were my legs alre­a­dy mer­ci­less­ly asleep. After eating in front of the restau­rant, I gave mys­elf a small cof­fee at a can-coffee from the hot drinks machi­ne.

Ever­y­thing seems to be in com­ple­te auto­ma­ti­on. Even the high-tech toi­let is simi­lar to a con­trol panel on the CNC machi­ne. Which of the many colorful but­tons is for rin­sing? The cha­rac­ters next to the but­tons are ali­en to me.

The coun­try seems like a suc­cessful syn­the­sis. On the one hand enorm­ous tech­no­lo­gi­cal advan­ces, an immense degree of auto­ma­ti­on in all living con­di­ti­ons and powerful tools for com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on in every place. On the other hand, peo­p­le who have nevert­hel­ess retai­ned the tra­di­ti­ons and values of their social exis­tence in the group, who con­scious­ly use the advan­ta­ges of the com­mu­ni­ty, of being tog­e­ther and of each other, to whom the joy of life is mark­ed at every step. Per­haps this is the abili­ty to accom­plish very spe­cial achie­ve­ments in value crea­ti­on, inspi­ra­ti­on, crea­ti­vi­ty and inno­va­ti­on.

Even simp­le work is done here with visi­ble digni­ty and also per­cei­ved with respect by the fel­low human beings. Ever­y­thing has its place and mea­ning. Ever­yo­ne - irre­spec­ti­ve of sta­tus and title - has its place and deser­ves respect.

The din­ner in the evening was for­t­u­na­te­ly again one flo­or hig­her at the dining table. On a grill, which was let in the table, lamb was pre­sen­ted accor­ding to all the rules of the culina­ry art, the ingre­di­ents, the pre­pa­ra­ti­on and the pre­sen­ta­ti­on. Of cour­se you can not miss the schnapps. To reject him would offend the host. Only the beer did not fit into the round. But the Kore­ans are beco­ming more and more popu­lar. Nevert­hel­ess, the kore­an coo­kery is still high. My col­le­ague from San Fran­cis­co, who has often visi­ted here, direct­ly addres­ses the owner. He urged him to open ano­ther restau­rant of this kind in San Fran­cis­co. The peo­p­le living the­re would break the booth out of wea­ri­ne­ss over the many fast­food. The same thing I could ima­gi­ne in Ger­ma­ny. The Kore­ans speak and learn Ger­man by the way.

I can not resist the repea­ted impres­si­on - here in Korea the future goes away - and alre­a­dy today. And this, after this all-destroying Korea­krieg in the fif­ties in three years and a month. About one mil­li­on sol­diers and three mil­li­on civi­li­ans were kil­led. The country’s infra­struc­tu­re and indus­try were com­ple­te­ly des­troy­ed. The Kore­ans ulti­m­ate­ly led only one depu­ty war with the­se grue­so­me los­ses. It was not only this war that show­ed the world in a spe­cial way the meanin­g­less­ness of wars and their col­la­te­ral con­se­quen­ces for all par­ties invol­ved.

I am impres­sed by the coun­try. On the other hand, I ask mys­elf, when is the­re again a gro­wing tog­e­ther - as Ger­ma­ny has lear­ned. This Korea has been sepa­ra­ted from the armi­sti­ce on July 27th, 1953 - as I always hear, pain­ful for the ordi­na­ry peo­p­le of the coun­try. The lea­der­ship days of both socie­ties con­ti­nue to exer­cise their hegem­o­ny. Loo­king at their poli­ci­es, they still live in war. The saber races are beco­ming more audi­ble every year just in the spring - the time of the mili­ta­ry maneu­vers. Both sides take no noti­ce - nobo­dy wants to give in. The­re are always gre­at thre­ats from both sides.

At the DMZ

The → Korea­krieg (25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953) came to the divi­si­on of Korea. Korea is the coun­try of a ter­ri­fy­ing pro-war. To this day, the­re was no peace trea­ty. Ins­tead, the­re was a truce and the estab­lish­ment of the DMZ - the East Asi­an East. This wall is not visi­ble to the public. The public is only awa­re of a line that it can never enter, and which oppo­ses huge mili­ta­ry and wea­pon poten­ti­als. DMZ stands for → Demi­li­ta­ri­zed Zone. The Kore­ans ali­en­ate their coun­try for this line - pre­cis­e­ly 4 x 248 kilo­me­ters - making 992 squa­re kilo­me­ters, spik­ed with insi­dious land­mi­nes.

At the time of the estab­lish­ment, the DMZ was a line bet­ween world-political and mili­ta­ry oppon­ents out­side Korea. We do not find a cus­to­ma­ry bor­der with fron­tiers and a mark­ed boun­da­ry line here. A mili­ta­ry demar­ca­ti­on line (abbre­via­ted DML) was estab­lished here. On both sides is a who­le ter­ri­to­ri­al zone on a total width of four kilo­me­ters, sepa­ra­ting the two Kore­an sta­tes across the Kore­an pen­in­su­la from West to East, appro­xi­m­ate­ly at the 38th lati­tu­de.

The DMZ appears like a Nie­mands­land. The term “Nie­mands­land” does not reco­gni­ze inter­na­tio­nal and inter­na­tio­nal law. Here, howe­ver, the term is in the unof­fi­ci­al sen­se sui­ta­ble for a dead and inhos­pi­ta­ble coun­try. This coun­try is unren­de­red, unin­ha­bi­ted, unma­na­ged, along a front line. In seve­ral are­as it is under­mi­ned with secret­ly pre-established tun­nels for plan­ned but never exe­cu­ted mili­ta­ry inter­ven­ti­ons of com­mand units.

And - how does one feel from the cen­ter of Ger­ma­ny at the DMZ? You might think it was a long way to go. He began on the for­mer seam line bet­ween two huge mili­ta­ry pacts in a divi­ded Ger­ma­ny. It ends here on the demar­ca­ti­on line in East Asia bet­ween two old / new worlds. Many thoughts ari­se in me as I stand the­re. But I also see com­mit­ment to the future. In any case, it was a new » fron­tier for me.

Mean­while, I am going to do various points of the Kore­an “seam­li­ne” direct­ly along the bar­ri­er fence. A dry and icy wind blows to the visi­tors. The desi­re sprouts, some­ti­mes the side chan­ge, in order to be able to meet the peo­p­le over the­re. Of cour­se - such an excur­si­on would not be wit­hout con­se­quen­ces.



Pho­to gal­lery

84 snapshots of Korea.

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