The Dividing Line

Two Korean soldiers– one from Sariwan, North Korea, and one from Chongju, South Korea– stare intensely at one another, watching each and every move. They are in the DMZ, a 4 km wide band stretching across 250 km of deserted land, known as the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. They each represent their part of Korea. The soldiers are in this uptight position because of the Korean War, which never officially ended with a peace treaty. As they watch one another, it is as if they are looking at a mirror image of themselves. Even though they are identical on the outside, they are far from similar on the inside. North Korea and South Korea, like the two soldiers, share some similar characteristics. First, they both have an extremely high literacy rate; North Korea has 95% and South Korea has 97% literate citizens. Education is free for students ages 5-16, and many take advantage of this academic offering. Second, what better food is there to be found in Korea than the fish than the fish that surround the peninsula. The North and the South have major commercial fishing businesses. In fact, did you know South Korea ranks third in the world’s fishing industry? Another common food between the North and South is rice. It’s the chief crop of the north and a wet- season crop in the south. Third, Korea has a homogenous society, which means the citizens in the North and South have a common ethnic background. Lastly, both sides share the Korean language. Approximately 110 million people living on the Korean peninsula speak this language, which originated in Neolithic times. Although you can see these few similarities, it is difficult to find many common links between the two parts of Korea. On the other hand, the differences are far more apparent. The first big difference between North and South Korea is their government. While North Korea is a hard- line Communist nation, the South is a democracy. The political power in the North…

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