Monday, August 22, 2011
This is one of the more interesting photos we've come across in recent weeks. It shows South Korean soldiers searching for North Korean landmines that may have been dislodged from the Korean Demilitarized Zone by last month's devastating floods and landslides. This is a familiar drill, as heavy rains often carry mines across the border. In fact, dozens of them washed up in South Korea last year, killing one and injuring another.
What we like about the photo is that it runs counter to our mental picture of a DMZ that's sharply defined by clipped vegetation, chain-link fences and concrete barriers. Instead, it conjures up an image of a no-man's-land pulsating on the margins. During periods of geologic and hydrological excess, it expands and bulges, then contract when soldiers have comb through the hazardous aggregate of earth and explosives with their metal detectors. You see a crisp line on the map, but it actually sprouts invisible, lobate foliation.
Of course, this variable terrain can be easily and visibly delineated with our post-natural version of Vaux-le-Vicomte's gardens.