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  Field Notes From
Dangerous Divide

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View Field Notes
From Photographer

Michael Yamashita

Dangerous Divide On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Author

Tom O'Neill

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Amanda MacEvitt (top) and Michael Yamashita


Dangerous Divide

Field Notes From Photographer
Michael Yamashita
Best Worst Quirkiest
    For someone who's never been in the military, I really enjoyed hanging out with U.S. Army personnel on the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. For a week these elite soldiers from the Second Infantry Division took me around, giving me a glimpse of what it's like to patrol one of the most dangerous places on Earth.
    I was around tanks, guns, training sessions with live ammunition, and great male camaraderie. I guess you could say it appealed to the macho part of me.

    It was extremely difficult to get permission from the South Korean Army to take photographs. Everything was top secret to them, and I had to fight hard for every opportunity. Even when they gave me authorization, I was under intense scrutiny, which I wasn't used to. Someone was always following me around, taking notes on what I was photographing and how many frames I used.  

    I went to Mount Kumgang, a sacred peak in North Korea that operates as a resort for tourists, but in three days I rarely saw a North Korean. All the roads were fenced in with barbed wire, and the government limited contact to a few politically well-versed park rangers.
    When I arrived at the resort, the first thing I got was a long list of do-nots. At the top of the list was restriction from taking pictures of North Koreans. The whole trip was carefully scripted. Kim Jong Il's regime is famous for its incredibly reclusive nature, but there doesn't seem to be any real rhyme or reason to their fears of the outside world. 

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