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The recent news about the Koreans got me intrigued so I looked up images of the DMZ and it got me wondering...

Here's an image: enter image description here

  1. Why do the South Koreans stand the way they do?
  2. Why do the North Koreans stand the way they do?

Is there any historical significance to the questions above?

  1. How long does each soldier stand guard like that? I'm sure they take shifts but I can't help but wonder what each soldier is thinking when it is his shift... "OMG, this is boring."

(I'm not sure if this is on topic here but I figured it relates to the Korean War.)

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    What each soldier is thinking is, "I wish I had a ham sandwich." – Tyler Durden Aug 25 '15 at 5:00
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    Well, the guy in the sun must be envying the guy in the shade opposite him. – Felix Goldberg Aug 25 '15 at 6:03
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    @FelixGoldberg at least he is warmer, it gets pretty cold in Korea. – NuWin Aug 25 '15 at 6:24
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    @FelixGoldberg Unless it's winter. Not a single tourist is wearing shorts. – gerrit Aug 25 '15 at 9:23
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    @jwenting That's entirely speculative and your suggestion is largely contradicted by the fact that there are more tourists facing the border than with their back to it. – David Richerby Aug 25 '15 at 11:58
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  1. Firstly, the South Korean soldiers are far more concerned about escalating possible situation. This is exemplified by how they are strict about making contact due to possible unwanted attention, hence the sunglasses on the SK soldiers. This is also exemplified by how the two side guards hug the corner with a firm stance forward as to expect a situation.

  2. The North Koreans on the other hand have a policy more keen on keeping what's inside: their own civilians or soldiers defecting. This is reflected by the way the side guards face each other. Also, the middle soldier is facing NK, again because of a history of defection. NK soldiers have historically made attempts of defection, going as far as shooting their comrades. Also less than a year ago, a NK soldier literally just walked over the border

  3. Now I must confess I'm not exactly sure about this question, however I recall something about how there are no shift changes. This doesn't mean they are there forever, only that as long as there is activity (e.g. visitors) they must remain there. I vaguely recall a ROK army website saying this, but I can't find the link.

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    Wow! Thank you for your answer! The reasoning behind their stances make sense. If you find the link in regards to my third question pls post it!! – NuWin Aug 25 '15 at 6:20
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    You're most welcome! If I do happen to stumble upon the link or any others sometime soon I'll post 'em! – Anwar Aug 25 '15 at 6:26
  • How comes there're also 2 South Korean soldiers facing SK? – Mario Trucco Aug 25 '15 at 10:55
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    @MarioTrucco: Most likely to keep an eye on the crowd. – evilcandybag Aug 25 '15 at 12:56
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    These are interesting answers but they are poorly referenced and hence seem entirely speculative. – congusbongus Aug 26 '15 at 2:42
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After reading Anwar's answer I did some more research and can confirm parts of his answer and since @Congusbongus said Anwar's answer seems entirely speculative I would like to add to it.

Why do the South Koreans stand the way they do?

The ROK soldiers stand in a Taekwondo fighting stance to react to anything that may happen. In fact all ROK soldiers are hand selected, have to meet a height requirement and hold black belts or higher in Taekwondo and other martial arts.

They wear sunglasses to show no emotion to the North Koreans.

They hug the wall to keep an eye on North Korea but at the same time able to reach for cover if they are to be shot at.

Why do the North Koreans stand the way they do?

I wasn't able to find any concrete evidence to back up Anwar's answer however it seems logical.

How long does each soldier stand guard like that? I'm sure they take shifts but I can't help but wonder what each soldier is thinking when it is his shift... "OMG, this is boring."

From what I've read and the pictures I've seen, it appears that the ROK soldiers stand guard more often then the NK soldiers. The NK soldiers usually only appear when there is a big crowd of tourists to take pictures of them and catalog them. (I guess NK is worried about "spies") Like Anwar said, the ROK soldiers are there to keep an eye out for any activity in NK but also keep any visitors safe so as long as there is some sort of activity the ROK soldiers are there.

You can check out this Youtube Video. At around 5 minutes you can hear a US soldier describe the information I said above which should be credible!

  • "...keep any visitors safe." That seems legitimate. North Korea has been known to kidnap South Koreans. – T.E.D. Aug 27 '15 at 13:27
  • Thanks for this, NuWin. At the time of writing my answer I was under 15 reputation, hence unable to add more than two links for reference. – Anwar Aug 27 '15 at 17:02

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