Template:Koreanname Panmunjeom (P'anmunjŏm) in Gyeonggi province is a village on the border between North and South Korea, where the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War was signed. The building where the armistice was signed still stands, though it is on the northern side of the Military Demarcation Line, which runs through the middle of the Demilitarized Zone. It is considered one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. Currently, discussions between North and South happen in the blue buildings which straddle the Military Demarcation Line.



The village is 48 kilometres northwest of Seoul and 10 kilometres east of Kaesong and is the headquarters of the Military Armistice Commission.

Brief Background

Panmunjŏm, a village in central Korea, was the site of the cease-fire agreement in the Korean Conflict. United Nations forces met with North Korean and Chinese officials at Panmunjŏm from 1951-1953 for truce talks. The talks dragged on for several months, with each side debating military boundaries and how to handle the many prisoners of war (POWs).

The main point of contention during the talks was the question surrounding the POWs. North Koreans largely mistreated American and allied POWs, including subjecting them to brainwashing. The problem was very different for North Korean and Chinese POWs. As many as one third of the captured North Koreans and many more of the Chinese did not want to be returned to their communist countries. Moreover, South Korea was uncompromising in its demand for a unified state.

On June 8, 1953, an agreement to the POW problem was reached. Those prisoners who refused to return to their communist countries were allowed to live under a neutral supervising commission for three months. At the end of this time period, those who still refused repatriation would be released.

A final agreement was reached on July 27, 1953. The United Nations, China and North Korea agreed to an armistice, effectively ending the fighting; however, South Korea refused to sign it. The agreement established a 2.5-mile wide demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel, dividing Korea into two separate countries. Although troops and weapons were to be removed from the area, it is heavily armed by both sides. Since South Korea never signed the armistice, the countries technically remain at war.


Missing image
Panmunjeom, Border to North Korea

Being at the centre of one of the world's most tense military and political fault lines, Panmunjeom has been the location of numerous high profile incidents.

  • On August 18, 1976, at 1040 hours, North Korean guards attacked a United Nations Command work party of five Korean Service Corps (KSC) personnel accompanied by an UNC security force, including the Joint Security Force (JSF) Commander, Captain (P) Arthur G. Bonifas, First Lieutenant Mark T. Barrett, and one Republic of (South) Korean Army (ROKA) officer, while pruning a large tree that was obscuring visibility between two UNC checkpoints. The northernmost checkpoint, CP#3, was only visible from the other checkpoint, OP#5, and was situated next to the Bridge of No Return. Halfway across the bridge was North Korean territory, and the Korean People's Army (KPA) had made numerous attempts to grab the UNC personnel from CP#3 and drag them across the bridge.

During the fight (over 30 KPA against 14 UNC personnel), Capt. Bonifas and Lt. Barrett were killed by the KPA who used their own pikes, clubs, and the axes dropped by the fleeing KSC civilians.

  • On August 21, 1976, at 0700 hours, UNC forces conducted Operation Paul Bunyan (, a massive show of force to reassert their right to operate freely and within the armistice conditions, on their side of the DMZ.
  • A number of defections have taken place over the years.
  • Several tunnels underneath the vicinity of the village, allegedly built by the North Koreans for use in a surprise attack, were discovered in the 1970s.

See also

External links

ko:판문점 it:Panmunjeom ja:板門店


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