From Cambodia to Japan

A Cambodian Student Looks at Life in Two Different Worlds

Going to the Demilitarized Zone

I'm leaving Japan tomorrow on a four days trip to Korea. It's going to be my second visit to this East Asian country in four years. (I went there once in 2002 with my Khmer seniors.)

This time, however, is a little different as I'm going with my seminar's professor, who's Korean, and 17 other students who take the same class. A genuinely kind professor, he pays half of the trip's expense, including the plane ticket, for each of us.

As for the travelling schedule, we will land in Pusan on the first day and spend the evening touring the city. The second and third day, we will be visiting Seoul, the capital of South Korea. And the last day, we will head to Panmunjom(板門店), a "truce village" that straddles the border between North Korea and South Korea in the middle of the Demilitarized Zone(非武装地帯).

If you live or study in Japan, the term "Demilitarized Zone" might sound familiar. Well, in case you don't know, DMZ is "a strip of land running across the Korean Penisula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea". It was established in 1953 in accordance with a truce treaty signed by the two countries. " Truce treaty" means the Korean War hasn't offically ended yet. With each side having over one million troops deployed within 160 kilometres of the Military Demarcation Line, it 's considered to be one of the most heavily armed border in the world.

When I told a friend that I'm heading to the DMZ, he asked me if I am crazy. He said North Korea has just recently tested its Nuclear Bomb and is suspected of planning another test. The tension between North and South Korean has been increased lately as a result of the Nuke test. War can break out at any time. DMZ, for him, doesn't sound like an ideal place to visit, at least for the time being.

I guess he is right to worry . In fact, only half of the students will tour the site. The rest decide to remain in Seoul, citing the same reasons. Nonethless, I'll go, as I 've already decided. Korean War: it's been a hot discussion topic in my class for weeks. We've talked about the DMZ . We've seen it only in the news. Now we got the chance to see the site by our own eyes, so why not go. One more thing, I believe the war, for the time being, is unlikely. North Korea seems to have lost all friends. It has infuriated its staunch ally, China, with the Nuke test. It can't go into war without the support of any friend, China in particular.

My trip to DMZ is going to be safe , so to speak.

Anyway, I'll post the pictures of DMZ once I've got back from Korea. Now I gotta pack my clothes.

The Angkor Photography Festival- Contest

The Angkor Photography Festival is coming up soon.

This year it will be held in Siem Reap from Nov. 25until Dec. 1st, 2006. If anyone is interested inattending please contact us with any questions.

Formore info visit our website: Angkor Phot Festival or here ( Collections of photos)

If you haven't already entered any images in our "Asiain the World" contest please join our group now andadd some photos! The limit is 20 images and winners'photographs will be shown at this year's festival in Cambodia. Plus, top prize winners will be receiving signed copies of photography books by world renowned photographers.

Deadline is November 1st. Please be sure to read the rules

Thanks and good luck!

Stuart Isett