SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Korea Bizwire) — The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the Korean Peninsula is ironically one of the world’s most heavily militarized borders with a memory of bloody battles during the 1950-53 Korean War.
At the same time, the strip of land along the North-South Korean border is recognized as one of the most well-preserved areas after natural isolation for more than half a century.
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the armistice that halted the Korean War, the unmanned place has come into the spotlight again as part of Google Arts and Culture’s (GAC) latest project, “Korea’s Demilitarized Zone.”
Launched in 2011, GAC has been working to digitalize artworks and cultural heritage in partnership with the world’s renowned museums and art galleries, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, with an aim to make culture more accessible.
“Exploring Korea’s DMZ is a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the ceasefire agreement, and a continuation of our ongoing efforts to show the richness and diversity of Korean culture,” Simon Rein, senior program manager of GAC, said in an interview held in Seoul on Tuesday.
“This increases Korea’s presence on GAC, as you can see people from all over the world, and wherever they are, spend hours learning about Korean culture online.”
In GAC’s DMZ project, nine Korean institutions, including the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, the War Memorial of Korea and the Korea National Arboretum, participated, offering some 5,000 assets and 60 curated stories.
The collection includes historical pictures of the Korean War, like soldiers from countries that fought in the war, and video records of the ceasefire agreement.
More than thousands of pictures of rare plants and animals that inhabit the isolated area are the highlight of the online showcase, as visitors can see the botanic images of the DMZ, which have been created mainly for academic use, on one site for the first time online.
Google’s digitalizing, hosting and curating technologies added some unique features to the online exhibition, like street views on famous battle fields, such as Punchbowl, that have been inaccessible, 3D imagery, and audio recordings of sounds of wind, water and birds in the DMZ.
The Google official said the company’s online exhibition will help people enjoy the history, and flora and fauna of the DMZ in a more immersive way on their smartphone or computer.
“Our project shows three lenses: history, nature and art,” Rein said. “It’s like looking at the DMZ through these three lenses. This is how we invite our people to explore the DMZ.”
The DMZ project is not GAC’s first collaboration with Korea.
Since 2012, it has worked with the National Museum of Korea, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and the National Intangible Heritage Center, archiving a number of Korean cultural heritages and allowing them to be shown globally.
Rein said Google has plans to expand the partnership with Korean institutions and help the global audience better know Korean culture.
“We’d love to work with more institutions, and we’d love to continue growing the presence,” he said. “If there are more institutions willing to work with us, we are very happy to do so.”
The DMZ exhibition on the GAC platform is available from Wednesday both in Korean and English.