The Korean peninsula is divided by the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ. South Koreans living on the frontline have been preparing for a possible strike for years… as CCTV America’s Roee Ruttenberg found out when he visited a town near the border.
On the border of 2 KoreasThe Korean peninsula is divided by the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ. South Koreans living on the frontline have been preparing for a possible strike for years... as CCTV America's Roee Ruttenberg found out when he visited one town near the border.
The 45,000 residents of this small, quiet town believe they have to be ready for anything. Perhaps because an almost equal number of South Korean soldiers live and train at nearby bases like this one. Sitting about ten kilometers from the demilitarized zone just beyond these hills – they argue – makes Yeoncheon a prime target.
Three years ago, we met Oh Pu-guen. He was in charge of the city’s safety if there’s a DPRK strike. He was also in charge of Yeoncheon’s preparedness.
“At this moment, we have eight bunkers,” said Oh. “They were paid for by the government. And also, three more bunkers are currently under construction.”
Even back then, Oh distributed leaflets instructing locals on how to respond in the event of an attack.
One of Oh’s bunkers can hold up to 450 people. So far, it’s only been used for drills. Over the years, the drills have become more frequent.
“As long as the North wants to get something, I think a partial attack should always be expected,” said Oh. “That’s why we have to be prepared.”
But despite Yeoncheon’s apparent vulnerability, there’s never been an attack here. Residents here are hoping to keep it that way.
Jia Xiudong on current nuclear tensions with the DPRK
For more on China’s stance on current nuclear tensions with the DPRK, we were joined by Jia Xiudong. He is a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies.