On the 38th Parallel, 1953

On the 38th Parallel, 1953

Bob Jagger at the 38th Parallel, 1953, just before the armistice.

Commentary about this image by Bob Jagger

The 38th Parallel that you can see in the photo is close to the original border and marks the division between North and South Koreas. You can still see it clearly on maps these days. It could be described as a no-man’s land.

During our time in the war we saw that sign several times as we moved along the road on the right hand side up into North Korea and back down again.

Fighting came to an end when the armistice was declared on 27 July 1953 and the Armistice Demarcation Line was established just north of Seoul, through the middle of the Demilitarised Zone.

After the armistice, we were in a position up north and had to come back to the south, allowing the North Koreans to take that position.

We stayed on in a peacekeeping role based below the 38th Parallel, by the Imjin River.

A line was put right across Korea at that point. If either side tried to intervene, they would have been blown up. There were no guards or buildings there in 1953 when this photo was taken, but when we went back in 1995 the South and North Koreans were at the border, sitting at a table centred in a building, eyeballing one another.

No peace settlement has been achieved since that time, and the line that crosses the 38th Parallel still serves as the Military Demarcation Line between the two Koreas.

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