The most fortified border in the world is that which divides North Korea, one of the last communist states, from the democratic Republic of South Korea. After World War II, when Japan ceased to rule over the unified nation of Korea, the country was divided at the 38th parallel by the Cold War enemies and world superpowers of that time, the U.S.S.R. and the United States. North and South Korea have technically been at war since 1950, the fighting ended in a cease-fire in 1953, which also marked the closing of the border and the establishment of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) a 2.5-mile-wide (4 km) buffer zone peppered with land mines, dividing the two countries which former President Clinton described in 2003 as "the scariest place on earth."1 The DMZ is split along the middle by the Military Demarcation Line, an ultimate barrier that if crossed would revive the war. Today some two million troops continue to patrol both sides of the 151-mile (248 km) DMZ on the perpetual brink of war, as North Korea continues its much contested nuclear weapons program while South Korean and U.S. armed forces remain alert little more than two miles away.
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