Life in a Border Area

Soldiers and Guard Posts: Rich and mulifaceted views on the people in the boarder area from the various perspectives of contemporary art

This section of the DMZ exhibition highlights two very different ways of life in the DMZ, specifically "the life of a soldier" and "the life of a civilian". In the DMZ, military tensions and an ordinary civilian world co-exist. 

Have a look into the people whose lives are inseparably interlaced with the changes in a political climate, not only through the artworks of artists or architects but also with historical records and notional archives. 

Inside DMZ – GP; Guard Posts by Park JongwooREAL DMZ PROJECT

Park Jongwoo, Inside DMZ

As the forefront bastion protecting the soldiers who carried out operations in tension, stillness and a suffocating silence, the guard post was a firmly standing symbol of the seemingly endless state of division. 

Inside DMZ – GP; Guard Posts by Park JongwooREAL DMZ PROJECT

Inside DMZ - GP: Guard Posts, a large -scale photographic work is a documentation of the unrealistic view currently shown by those vestiges of war. 

489 Years 489 Years by Hayoun KwonREAL DMZ PROJECT

Hayoun Kwon, 489 Years

489 Years is transcribed according to the testimony of a former South Korean soldiers. The video gives the viewers access to the DMZ, and immerses them in the personal memories of the soldiers. 

489 Years by Hayoun KwonREAL DMZ PROJECT

In the piece, the soldier tells us his experiences in a research mission and the amazing discovery he made in the field full of mines. 

Image Propaganda by Changmin LeeREAL DMZ PROJECT

Changmin Lee, Image Propaganda

Image Propaganda began from the artist’s experience of hearing the North’s propaganda broadcasts toward the South while he was serving in the army in 2017. The work is still ongoing, even though the broadcasts have ended.

The propaganda broadcasts toward the North have stopped; the sound no longer echoes. Yet, the artist implies through his photographs that the tension built by the occasional sound of gunfire from the nearby military base is not much different from when the broadcasts were heard.

DMZ Secure Operation (2013/2013) by Sungjin ParkREAL DMZ PROJECT

Park Sungjin, DMZ Secure Operation

A video work of footage shot in spaces with high military tension, such as the DMZ and GP. The DMZ is the forefront of South Korea and a place where things should never be loose. The artist captures the very atmosphere in the time and place without any filter.

Inje GP Dismantlement Inje GP Dismantlement by Park SungjinREAL DMZ PROJECT

He has sensed that in 2019, the relations between the North and South have changed and improved, and records in his work the changing stances of individuals following upon the changes in the political situation of the peninsula. 

A Mock Cavalry Battle (2010/2010) by Heinkuhn OHREAL DMZ PROJECT

Heinkuhn OH, A Mock Cavalry Battle, May 2010

In Heinkuhn OH’s work, we confront the subtle expressions of anxiousness in the faces of soldiers, which can be traced back to the legacy of trauma from the colonial era and decades of rule by military regimes. However, the photographs do not show any direct acts of violence. 

Rather, they represent the collective trauma of soldiers who grapple with the premonition of violence. 

Crucially, the series also presents unexpected kinds of ambiguous anxieties, induced by conflicts arising from the shifting condition of the military culture, wherein blind loyalty to national security coexists with the secular values of youthful soldiers.—From In the Midst of Shifting Anxieties, written by Young Min Moon

Empathic Audition Empathic Audition by Jaewook LeeREAL DMZ PROJECT

Jaewook Lee, Empathic Audition

A video piece that records the brainwaves of two actors as they confront the camera, performing as student soldier Lee Woo Geun who died after he finished writing a letter to his mother during the Korean War. 

Empathic Audition by 이재욱REAL DMZ PROJECT

While the actors imagine and embody the severe situation of the war, an EEG machine scans their brainwaves, revealing how empathy works when feeling the pain of the other.

Nam-poongri Nam-Ildang Nam-GP (2019/2019) by Noh SuntagREAL DMZ PROJECT

NOH Suntag, Nam-poongri Nam Ildang Nam-GP

A view on the DMZ from where the artist lives. He discovers the view of violence-stained urban redevelopment and traces of the tragedy in Yongsan from the Southern GP that was demolished upon an agreement between the North and South. 

rifling-012 (2017/2017) by Kim TaedongREAL DMZ PROJECT

Kim Taedong, rifling-012

Kim Taedong’s rifling series is continued from the 2015 REAL DMZ PROJECT. Kim tracks the dawn time near the Gyeongwon Line (Dongduchoen–Baengmagoji Station) where traces of the war remain, and captures the time in his camera.

rifling-037 (2015/2015) by Kim TaedongREAL DMZ PROJECT

He records Dongsung Terminal, a woman in military costume, bullet holes at war sites in the village, a demolished wall in a small village next to the US army base, the unique tension of a war site village at dawn, and the stars in the night sky shining there. 

PLANETES-014 (2018/2018) by Kim TaedongREAL DMZ PROJECT

ΠΛΑΝΗΤΕΣ-014, remains of the war that rotate with the stars as their standard. This work embodies the artist’s intention to reflect on an older time of civilization innate in the shaken remains, as infinite different times converge so that the myriad of stars in the photograph becomes a single scene. 

Wilderness— within us—Socialized Nature Wilderness— within us—Socialized Nature by Yang Ah HanREAL DMZ PROJECT

Yang Ah Ham, Wilderness— within us—Socialized Nature

It is an irony that the DMZ, the “demilitarized zone,” is in fact a heavily armed area. Yang Ah Ham first approached the DMZ with an interest in a ‘humanness world’—nature with the least amount of human intervention. 

Forecasting a pattern of acceleration of socialization that might take over the DMZ after unification, the work shows how present and future might overlap, and how the current generation’s development of DMZ could influence environmental conditions for future generations.



This project seeks to incite a new vision and scope of thinking by pointing out the institutional and authoritative power that renders our lives dull, transcending beyond the realm of art and redefining the relationship between humanity and the world, and life itself.


Chan Sook Choi, Yang Ji Ri

Yangji-ri, a village to the north of the civilian control line, is a migrant community constructed under military control as a propaganda toward North Korea. The migrants of this village were given governmental support for housing, but their land ownership was not acknowledged. 

 For long they have extended and modified their 29.75 square-meter houses built on land they cannot own, creating unique house structures. These ‘add-on houses’ reflect the migrants’ narrative of displaced identities and represent the very space of their materialized selves.

Wilderness— within us—Socialized Nature (2013/2013) by Yang Ah HanREAL DMZ PROJECT

Yang Ah Han, Wilderness— within us—Socialized Nature

This video work was created based on historic materials and interviews who have visited and conducted researched the area. 

Wilderness— within us—Socialized Nature by Yang Ah HanREAL DMZ PROJECT

The video follows the past and present of the DMZ. Forecasting a pattern of acceleration of socialization that might take over the DMZ after unification, the work shows how present and future might overlap, and how the current generation’s developme

The Most Beautiful Moment of War by Adrián Villar RojasREAL DMZ PROJECT

Adrián Villar Rojas, The Most Beautiful Moment of War

The artist asked to spend one month with his team in Yangji-ri, a small village in the buffer zone of the DMZ, where he proposed to develop and document a series of activities to trigger a state of fiction involving the entire village’s community and its close neighbors. 

The Most Beautiful Moment of War by Adrián Villar RojasREAL DMZ PROJECT

Villar Rojas’s double purpose of making a documentary and a theatrical play-film- hybrid fiction becomes clear in the final credits: listing the entire Yangji-ri population, which also serves as the first census in the village’s history.

Mixed Signals by Joon KimREAL DMZ PROJECT

Joon Kim, Mixed Signals

An installation work that utilizes sounds collected from certain regions prohibiting civilian entrance (Igil-ri, Yugok-ri, etc.) and places left as historical structures such as checkposts, the Labor Party Office, Kilometer Zero, and Jeongyeon Railroad Bridge.

Mixed Signals by Joon KimREAL DMZ PROJECT

The installation allows the viewers to experience a soundscape emblematic of the Korean division.

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