During a business trip to Seoul, South Korea, in 1995 I traveled to the village of Panmunjon and took a USO-sponsored tour of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which forms the border between North and South Korea – two countries that are technically still at war and in cease-fire mode.
My father, Fred Spiardi, was a U.S. Army Private in Korea in the early 1950s. I was always fascinated by the photos he took of the barren landscapes and war-weary women and children, and I hoped that someday I’d have a chance to see this part of the world. The USO tour gave me just such an opportunity.
We were able to enter the conference center where the North and South Koreans hold meetings. The room is divided down the middle, and we were allowed to stand on the North Korean side while their soldiers studied and photographed us. We weren’t permitted to take photos of them, but I couldn’t resist.
The photo at the top shows me standing in front of the North Korean landscape. That area is known as Propaganda Village. Loudspeakers blare anti-American messages all day long. It was an eerie – and fascinating – experience.
@ Dana Spiardi