View from the DMZ: A dream of unity in a divided land


Ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Omnisport paid a visit to the Demilitarized Zone running across the Korean Peninsula.

Senior Editor Graham Bell provides this report.


Flying high in the sky, there was a bird who probably did not understand the significance of the land below - a sparse area, with a single road and rail track, backdropped by the crashing sea on one side and jagged mountain peaks behind, almost idyllic.

But a closer look begins to reveal its true meaning. The watchtowers - perched menacingly, staring towards each other, separated by only a few kilometres yet seemingly worlds apart.

It is here that North and South Korea meet - courtesy of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). Two countries still technically at war, a rich tapestry of history with dynasties, invasions and global politics at its heart. A gawping tourist attraction now, but with a dark undertone.

Just along the coast to the south, a museum tells the story of the conflict, which will see its latest chapter written over the next two weeks.

Even a few months ago, there was much discussion about whether the Winter Olympics would even take place in Pyeongchang. Now, the two nations are expected to march together, under a unified flag in the opening ceremony.

The women's ice hockey teams have already come together, celebrating birthdays with new friends, and are expected to take much of the focus on Saturday against Switzerland, when their Olympic dream gets underway.

For International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, this has been a four-year adventure. As an athlete who himself competed for a divided Germany, he knows the benefit of unity in promoting the Olympic spirit. To outsiders, it's a story of fascination, portrayed as good against evil.

For the locals, while some remain reserved about what might be to come, it's an opportunity to embrace one another and move closer to the dream of a peaceful unification.

There is a fear that the younger generation may forget about the struggles of the past, yet away from the observatory and the bird in the sky - the sound of drums, of hope and love for the Korean Peninsula rings out loud.