Corporate Eye

South Korea Rebranding the DMZ

korea dmzSixty years ago when the Korean War ended, a four kilometer zone (2 kilometers on either side of the cease fire line) and spanning 248 kilometers was identified as the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where no military equipment or personnel could enter. Of course, that didn’t stop both North and South Korea from lining up millions of soldiers and landmines to guard either side of the DMZ.

Fast forward to 2012 and the DMZ still exists, and has become a popular tourist attraction (complete with lines of observation binoculars, gift shops, and T-shirts for sale) where BBC News reports that 6.5 million people visit every year. The DMZ and approximately 8 kilometers next to the DMZ on the South Korea side has been virtually untouched for six decades because public access to the area has been highly restricted.

As BBC News explains, “Environmentalists say that has created a pristine nature reserve, with thousands of species including rare cranes and Korean flying squirrels.” South Korea plans to turn the area into an eco-tourism zone where instead of visiting “the world’s last divided country,” they can experience wildlife.

With its new plan for the area adjacent to the DMZ ready, the next step for South Korea’s Environment Ministry is changing the perceptions people have of that area and turning a negative into a positive. With that in mind, the government plans to rebrand the area around the DMZ as the PLZ, which stands for the “Peace and Life Zone.”

Overall, this rebranding seems like a good idea. If 6.5 million people visit the DMZ each year, it’s safe to assume that the number will increase with the addition of the new brand positioning of the “Peace and Life Zone” which will include nature trails and more.

What do you think? Will this rebranding be successful? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Justin De La Ornellas

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.