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Felix Dennis
July 3, 2008
Mandalay, Mustique
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Within twin parallels of hate
  A paradise has risen,  
Its razored wire, with death the bait,
  Both sanctuary and prison.

A ribbon sewn with Dragon’s teeth
  Of war and rolling thunder,
Blind nature’s artificial wreath—
  A killing-field of wonder.

Intention scores at less than nought
  To destiny’s upheaval,
This sacrifice to Mars has wrought
  An Eden from an evil.

And so it is with you and me,
  A blesséd resurrection.
From youthful lust, love’s chemistry
  Has spawned this deep affection!

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea is two miles wide and 151 miles long.  No human has lived there for more than 50 years.  Messages of hatred from loudspeakers and huge electrified signs bombard ‘the enemy’ from both sides.  Hundreds of thousands of land mines make this one of the most hostile environments in the world — to humans, at least — but wildlife has flourished as in no other part of Korea.  Rare species, including red-crowned cranes, snow geese, musk and water deer, Asiatic black bears, lynx, and even the Amur leopard roam unmolested between razor-wire and miles of fortified concrete bunkers.  For three generations, the DMZ on the 38th parallel has been a fact of life for Koreans; the one fixed point of a region that has changed beyond all recognition since the truce of 1953. When the unthinkable happens and the two Koreas reunite,  a massive struggle will erupt over the future of the DMZ.  Property developers will fight like Siberian tigers (sadly only rumoured to be present in the DMZ) to get their hands on such prime real estate. (The DMZ is perilously close to the suburbs of Seoul.)  Conservationists will surely demand that the DMZ be cleared and protected as as a world-heritage nature reserve, but the pressures of close to 100 million Korean people squeezed into a peninsula the size of Guyana (population under one million) will ultimately decide the issue. Peace for humans may  well lead to the extinction of certain species, currently eking out a precarious existence in a man-made hell they must view as paradise.