Ecological Cooperation beyond the DMZ on the Korean Peninsula: Birds Know No Man-made Borders

Hyun Ah Choi, Bernhard Seliger, Woo Kyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For over 70 years, people have been excluded from the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). However, flora and fauna have been able to live within and surrounding the DMZ beyond the control of humans. Birds are highly mobile, and through their movements within and across the border region, they also have the potential to identify valuable ecosystem and conservation priorities shared between the two Koreas and the wider Asian region. Since 2018, plans for the peaceful use and development of the Han River Estuary (HRE) in the Neutral Zone between the two Koreas, have been the subjects of peaceful dialogue on the Korean Peninsula. Further, the HRE has international importance for birds during the migratory season as defined by the Ramsar Convention, which uses the number of waterbirds and the percentage of the population of a waterbird species counted at a given wetland in determining that wetland's international importance. The internationally endangered species on the IUCN Red List maintain wintering grounds in the HRE between two Koreas. This study suggests possible inter-Korean and wider regional cooperation regarding the ecological importance of the HRE for birds as well as other wildlife species and their habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-150
Number of pages23
JournalKorea Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2021R1A6A1A10045235) and a grant from Korea University.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Academy of Korean Studies. All rights reserved.


  • borderless
  • cooperation
  • habitat conservation
  • waterbirds
  • wetlands

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'Ecological Cooperation beyond the DMZ on the Korean Peninsula: Birds Know No Man-made Borders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this