There’s a charming little village on the northern side of the 2.5-mile (4-km) wide demilitarized zone that separates South Korea from North Korea. Built on land created as a buffer zone by the 1953 armistice following the Korean War, the communist North Korean government calls this bucolic town Kijong-dong, or Peace Village. It’s reportedly home to 200 families who work on nearby collective farms and live modest lives, but people are seldom seen there. The residential buildings either have windows without glass or are simply painted illusions. Electric lights go on and off at the same time every day, as if on timers. South Koreans call this place Propaganda Village, and say it was built to make North Korea appear prosperous and to lure defectors over the border.
In Kijong-dong, the lights are on, but nobody's home:
- The faux town supposedly has a child-care center, schools, and a hospital. South Koreans report that they occasionally see maintenance workers in Kijong-dong, sweeping the streets. But the buildings appear to be shells, with lights only appearing on upper floors.
- There is also a village in South Korea's portion of the DMZ. A few hundred South Koreans actually live in Daeseong-dong, and they don’t pay taxes and they don’t have to serve in the military. But they can’t relocate, either.
- In the 1980s, the South Koreans put up a 323-foot (98-m) pole in Daeseong-dong and flew the country's flag. North Korea responded by erecting a 525-foot (160-m) flagpole, and raised an even larger North Korean flag over Kijong-dong.