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Shooting on the frontline: Photos from Korea's DMZ

  • Photographs of Korea's DMZ to be displayed at UN HQ
  • Taken by Korean photographer Choi Byung Kwan
  • Choi walked along the 155-mile truce line recording the area's flora and fauna

(CNN) -- Choi Byung Kwan undertook a special operation for the Republic of Korea's army in one of the world's most sensitive areas.

He was not a highly trained soldier, but a photographer armed only with a camera. Over a period of years in the late 1990s and early 2000s he traversed the 155-mile truce line of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides the Korean peninsular photographing the area's remarkable ecology that was littered with reminders of the Korean war.

"I often came across fantastically charming wild flowers blossoming through the bullet holes of rusty iron helmets in mine fields," he says.

"[T]hey always struck a mixed feeling of joy and sorrow in my heart because they looked like reincarnations of the young souls of fallen soldiers."

Photographing Korea's DMZ

His photographs will be shown in an exhibition at the UN headquarters in New York in June commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Korean war, and it is hoped by Choi, celebrating peace.

"I gradually realized during my work that the Korean DMZ was not only a valuable source of irreplaceable natural life but also a historical site reminding humanity of the preciousness of peace," Choi says.

"I thought many times that this buffer zone deserved serious international attention as a possible world conservation site, which could naturally facilitate peace in the Korean peninsula."