Experience Amplifier, Observation 1
Pavel-to-DMZ Content 1. The second story of Gazi-Gazi <Demilitarized Zone>
I saw a documentary before called <Rabbit à la Berlin, 2009> that tells the story of the 120km-long space between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War that became a paradise for wild rabbits without human intrusion. This documentary gives two main ideas to think about. The first is small, powerless individuals in ideological confrontation. The second is the relationship between animals and humans. I am here to tell you the second story.
It is not just a story from the Cold War era. As the number of people who go outside decreased in the early days of COVID-19, many people have told stories about how there has been an increase of wild animals, or that animals in the mountains came down to the city center. However, if you look at human history, it makes sense that the animals would be afraid of humans. And since the worst predator humans are not around, many animals are likely to appear.
The DMZ has now won the title of a paradise for endangered species, moving past the times when it was only considered a symbol of division. Like the space between the Berlin Wall, which used to be the paradise of wild rabbits, the space in the DMZ, where human intrusion was restricted, has become a utopia of wild animals. But, something is a little strange. We are oddly indifferent to them. People talk about the increased real estate price within the civilian control zone when inter-Korean relations seem to be a little better, but I have never seen anyone that discuss what they should do with the wild animals there. Despite the uncertainties, wild animals will face a great challenge if the DMZ is opened. Perhaps the song ‘Our Wish is Unification’ sounds too harsh for them. A land where nobody pays attention is perhaps not a utopia but just abandoned land. They are as powerless as rabbits in the Berlin Wall, who seem to be safe for a while but live in a state of no knowing when they will be struck. These animals need our attention.
So I found a book for those who were wondering, “How can we get interested in the ecosystem of places we cannot visit?” A book about animals in the DMZ called “Gazi-Gazi.” They have pictures, writing styles, and pattern illustrations that are very pleasing. These cute elements play various roles in every corner. The story is about animals living in the DMZ that are mostly endangered or have nowhere to go due to urbanization. This book is especially good because they are not focused on educating or emphasizing.
There may not be noticeable changes for the wild animals that live there from our interest. Just like how most things in the world seem at first. But we have seen this many times. We know how much potential public interest has. The potential to come up with the best solutions in critical situations… The DMZ will soon be at an important crossroads. I am not saying we should shout “Protect nature! Protect wildlife!” unconditionally. Even if it cannot be a utopia for all, I hope it can be the best place for everyone. For the wild animals, and for humans.
We would like to introduce the second story of Gazi-Gazi <Demilitarized Zone> written by independent publisher 40,000km, as the first content of pavel-to-DMZ. I hope you can become interested in wildlife in the DMZ and travel to DMZ-related destinations to think about the theme in a natural way.
<Interview with Lee Yeonwoo, a writer of the book Gazi-Gazi>
Interview space : Writer’s space / Interview start time : pm 7:50, 29 Aug 2020 / Age group : 20’s / Home Country : Seoul, Republic of Korea
How do you describe yourself?
When I was young, there was a yellow wall at home that my mother painted herself. Most of my ego was formed in the house, and I like yellow a lot because the house was like my totem.
Is yellow the very influential color for you?
I always liked yellow, and I also like colors that go well with yellow. In fact, yellow goes well with many colors, and it seems like this is telling of my personality. A person who adapts well and blends well wherever they go.
How do you describe your everyday life?
A Full Life That Does Not Seem So
Even though I am a freelancer that may seem laid back, I have no weekends and work almost 365 days a year. I feel that my life is full because I constantly live thinking about the work I do.
How do you describe the character of the book Gazi-Gazi?
A Cute Story with a Deeper Meaning
The book “Gazi-Gazi” is a cute book with a writing style and pictures that seems like are for children. However, if you actually read the story, there are deeper stories such as historical stories about why these animals had to go all the way there, why these exotic plants came to Korea, and how we humans came to harm them.
How do you describe the mood of the book Gazi-Gazi?
A book perfect for the spring. A book that is like bread or glutinous rice cake, with a soft touch in the dough and sweet red beans inside.
How did you start the book Gazi-Gazi?
“Gazi-Gazi” was produced by four friends, that tried to include various stories. We wanted to select items that form a specific space that had been abandoned for a long time and include these stories. All four of us started the project because we liked to deal with small or hidden stories rather than large ones. We did not plan on setting the theme as just animals and plants. Different objects and people could have been selected as themes. But since we were all friends that liked animals and plants, the first book naturally discussed themes about plants, and the second book discussed themes about animals.
Why did you choose the animals of DMZ as the second topic?
Our interest was just fit in the situation. At that time, President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un met together and discussed about how to utilize the DMZ after removing mines. Since we were looking for a theme to work with and we were discussing animals and plants, we came to the conclusion that the DMZ was a perfect choice. It was a place that has not been visited by people for a long time, and it fit our concept as well.
We usually do not recognize all the animals that live in the DMZ. The Asiatic black bear has become quite famous, but people still do not know about animals like the black-faced spoonbill or the boreal digging frog, despite the efforts of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. People have also not heard of species such as the swan goose. Through research, we came to learn that there are unexpectedly many native fish and animals living in Korea, and animals that exist in Korea that may be seen abroad like spotted seals. Because of these things, we became more attracted to the DMZ as we made this book. We first started this project because we were attracted to the space called the DMZ itself, but these animals made it even more attractive. We may consider the DMZ as a space containing the pains of war, but there are so many valuable things in it. The fact that we could promote these things was very enjoyable for us.
What is the word that describes the DMZ?
Perhaps it is because I did not grow up during the Korean War, but since I was young the DMZ felt like a place I could not visit that is full of mines. But while making this book, I started to realize that I had a close relative nearby. I felt like there was a close relative I wanted to protect and cherish within this country. I hope that people do not harm the area and protect it.
An interesting person you communicate with through the book Gazi-Gazi?
The doctors were very attractive.
There are only a few people who I can ask about the animals in the DMZ, and only a few of them are taking care of all the animals in the DMZ. There is no one else to ask questions. They agreed to the interview and proofreading that could be annoying and helped out as if it were their job. I also remember them thanking me for teaching the public on behalf of them.
Do you have any opinion about the relationship of inter-Korea?
In Chuncheon, where I lived as a child, there was a box to pick up North Korean flyers. There were unification poster making contests, writing contests, unification painting contests, and slogan contests. Naturally, when we were young, we thought our wish was reunification unconditionally. However, now I think it would not be bad to exist as two countries that respect each other. Of course, I do not know how that will turn out politically, but as an individual, I personally believe this could work. Both sides are treating each other like traitors because they are considered one nation. I think it could be better to be friendly with each other while communicating and trading with each other as independent nations.
What do you dream about the DMZ in the future?
Whenever there is vacant space in Korea, people want to use it. Rather than just observing these animals, I hope this space could be used as a safari of sorts to protect these animals. I hope we can help all these animals and plants, especially those are that are endangered.
Interview start time : pm 8:29, 29 Aug 2020