The Korean War is now (in 2017) in its 64th year with no end in sight. Physical hostilities with a few very notable exceptions ceased on 28 July 1953, the day after the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed in the Peace Museum (see my separate review) here in what is now commonly referred to as Panmunjom.
Since the Armistice Agreement the War has been a propaganda war played to the full by both camps. This propaganda war has been fought, and continues to be fought, on many fronts within Korea and around the world. Within the Demilitarised Zone and Panmunjom we have or have had the alleged existence of a Korean Wall, an allegedly fake village and other buildings – see my separate review, “Kijong-dong Village. Is it or isn’t it real ?”, loudspeakers broadcasting propaganda up to 20 hrs a day, leaflet drops, murals and electronic sign boards, oversized soldiers and last but not least, flags.
When it comes to flags and their related flagpoles, size is of great importance. Big and small are represented in Panmunjom/DMZ. This review concentrates on the Big flags.
In the 1980s South Korea started what some refer to as the ‘Flagpole War’ – a game of one-upmanship and grandstanding – by erecting a 98.4 metre tall flagpole with a 130kg flag in Taesong-dong – South Korea’s Demilitarised Zone village.
North Korea was quick to respond to this ‘sign of aggression’ by the South with a 160 metre tall flagpole carrying a 270kg flag which it erected in its Demilitarised Zone village – Kijong-dong. When it rains, the weight of the flag is so great that it is taken down to prevent structural damage to the pole.
At the time this was the second tallest flagpole* in the world – second to an Azerbaijan flagpole in Baku which measured 162 metres. In 2011 a 165m flagpole was erected in Tajikistan pushing the North Korean flagpole into position number three. This is not a big concern for North Korea as its flagpole is still bigger than the South Korean one and that’s what matters.
*There is some debate as to what constitutes a flagpole – some distinguish between flagpoles and flagtowers. This matters little here as the important point is the last sentence in the above paragraph.
Both flagpoles are visible from the Joint Security Area with the North Korean one also being visible from the entry to the Peace Museum where the Armistice was signed in 1953.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on my visit to Panmunjom (DMZ), North Korea. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Little Flags and Naughty Soldiers – or to start this loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – If war resumes leave the area as soon as possible!