December 9, 2009 / 1:41 PM / 10 years ago

Straight from Korean military zone: bottled water

A manager of bottler Login Beverage poses with bottled water at a factory of the company in Yeoncheon near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, northeast of Seoul, December 9, 2009. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - South Korea’s newest bottled water comes from a place where the nature has been unspoiled for decades due to razor-wire fences, land-mined fields and more than one million heavily armed soldiers standing guard.

Its name is “DMZ 2km” and is bottled near the no-man’s-land Demilitarized Zone buffer that has divided the Korean peninsula since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War and is marketed to those who do not think of the area as the Cold War’s last frontier.

“We decided on water from the DMZ because it’s different, and the environment there is untouched, so many people thinks it’s clean,” said Lee Sang-hyo, a spokesman for Lotte Chilsung Beverage Co, which started selling the water three months ago.

A 500ml bottle sells for 600 won (about 50 U.S. cents) and has DMZ on the label, along with a silhouette of a bird.

Login Beverage, the bottler, draws the water from a plant about 2 km south of the South Korean end of the buffer zone from a spring that flows under the DMZ — a 4-km (2.5-mile) wide band that runs about 245 km (150 miles) across the peninsula set up as a part of the ceasefire that ended the Korean War fighting.

Except for the rare secret military patrol or border incursion, the DMZ has been free of human activity since the end of the war, and has become a band of pristine nature.

Environmentalists estimate there are about 2,900 different plant species, about 70 different types of mammals and 320 different types of birds in the DMZ.

There is also one of the world’s largest collection of armaments on either side because the two Koreas are technically still at war.

“Getting the water is not dangerous at all. We worked it all out with the military,” said spokesman Lee.

Reporting by Christine Kim and Jon Herskovitz, editing by Miral Fahmy

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