The Mysterious Fake Town On North Korea’s Border


Is Kijong-dong just an empty village?

FROM the outside the North Korean village of Kijong-dong looks like any other town, brightly painted houses, schools, daycare, even a hospital.

But on closer inspection all is not as it seems.
Sitting in the heavily guarded Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea, Kijong-dong is widely referred to as the “Propaganda Village” and is believed to be a decoy for luring South Korean defectors.

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A view of Kijong-dong from South Korea.

Built in the four kilometre wide DMZ that was set up in 1953 as an armistice to end the Korean War, the town claims to have 200 residents and boasts an image of economic success.
However observations from the south have suggested that Kijong-dong is fake and is uninhabited and devoid of human life.
The buildings are actually concrete shells with no glass in their windows, electric lights operate on an automatic timer and the only people in sight are maintenance workers who sweep the streets to give the impression of activity.

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Cultivated fields give the impression of prosperity. Picture: wiki. Source: Supplied

Named Peace Village by North Korea, it has been used by the government as a battling ground for supremacy between the two powers.
In the 1980s the South Korean government built a 98 metre tall flagpole in the opposite city of Daeseong-dong to antagonise the northern power. This was quickly countered by North Korea who built a 160 metre tall flagpole in response. It was at the time the tallest in the world.
Until 2004, massive loudspeakers delivered DPRK propaganda broadcasts to the south that praised North Korea’s virtues and urged disgruntled soldiers and farmers to walk across the border.

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The battle of the flagpoles. Picture: wiki. Source: Supplied

When this approach failed to lure defectors, the speakers began blasting 20 hours a day of anti-western rhetoric, communist operas and patriotic marching music. In 2004, both countries agreed to end their loudspeaker broadcasts to each other.
The village is surrounded by extensive cultivated fields with the official position of the North Korean government claiming it is a collective farm for its residents.
Either way, it’s a lot of effort just to keep up appearances.


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