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even areas with land mines have doubled or tripled in value

#1
For Sale: Undeveloped Korean Land. DMZ Views.

“There are now three people who are interested in buying this land,” said Lee Heung-bok, a real estate agent, standing atop a hill and waving with his left hand at some 57 acres of pristine river and green mountains inhabited by wild black boars.

“One person is interested in building a golf course,” he added. “Not right now, of course, but sometime in the future.”

Yigil is a farming village by the demilitarized zone dividing South Korea from North Korea. It lies inside what is called the Civilian Control Zone, an area extending some 10 miles south of the DMZ and restricted to residents and soldiers. Others must get passes to enter the zone, where the military has restricted construction to low-lying buildings.

Barricades flank the zone’s main roads, built in such a way that they can be made to collapse and slow down invading North Korean tanks. Hanging on barbed wire alongside many forested areas are red-and-orange triangular signs warning about land mines. Yigil lies so close to North Korea that a tunnel leading from the North to the South, dug by North Korean soldiers, was discovered nearby in 1975.

Despite all that, warming ties between South and North Korea have been drawing speculators like Mr. Park to Yigil and other villages here in the middle of the peninsula. In the last three years, prices have risen so much that agents and locals here say even areas with land mines have doubled or tripled in value. Land next to the DMZ may fetch only $9,200 per acre — cheap by the standards of South Korea’s real estate bubble — but it could not even be given away a few years ago, real estate agents say.

“Some have bought land-mined areas for a cheap price, de-mined them and resold them for a profit,” said Kim Young-sun, a real estate specialist at Chorwon County, which includes Yigil as well as other villages in and outside the zone.

Mr. Lee, the real estate agent, said some speculators were also buying land inside the 2.5-mile-wide DMZ itself, paying the equivalent of $1,300 an acre to the title holders.

“It’s so cheap,” Mr. Lee said. “But it’s a recent phenomenon. There is the expectation that one day there will be reunification.”

The site of one of the Korean War’s fiercest battles, much of Chorwon was a no man’s land until the government sent 150 war veterans here in 1967, telling them that if they de-mined the land, they could keep some of it.

“We just did the work with shovels,” said Yoo Chul-hoon, 70, one of the original 150 and a resident of Daema, a village a few miles west of here.

“Many people were maimed by the land mines,” said Mr. Yoo, who lost part of his right leg while clearing a mine. “At one point, we were burying two people a day.”

Many of the prewar owners eventually returned to villages in and outside the zone and reclaimed their land. But the cold war kept development away and land prices down.

Although the two Koreas remain officially at war, the 2000 summit meeting fundamentally changed the South’s perception of the North from cold war enemy to an estranged relative who needed to be coaxed into behaving well. “The proximity to North Korea was in fact a positive factor,” said Rheu Jee-seuk, 50, a resident of Seoul who bought a 15-acre plot just outside the Civilian Control Zone last year. “The nature is untouched here, and there’s almost no development because the area’s so close to North Korea.”
In full

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/05/world/asia/05dmz.html?hp
 
#2
Although the two Koreas remain officially at war, the 2000 summit meeting fundamentally changed the South’s perception of the North from cold war enemy to an estranged relative who needed to be coaxed into behaving well
Michael Myers springs to mind :x
 

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