Living in the shadow of Kim Jong Un’s regime

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There’s only one bridge onto South Korea’s Gyodong Island and it’s guarded by soldiers.

Every visitor is checked in and out.

A tiny sliver of water is all that separates it from North Korea.

Metal security fences surround much of the coastline to help guard against an enemy that is less than two miles away.

Despite living on front line, few of the residents seem afraid.

In a hairdresser, Bang Eun Jung tells me they’re too close and too small for Kim Jong Un to target with his guns.

Sky News visits South Korea's Gyodong Island, where residents live in the shadow of Kim Jong Un's regime.
Video: What it’s like living next to North Korea

They know a deal from this week’s inter-Korean summit could help to change their lives, but they’re wary of letting the North in.

“We should not fully trust them as they had a habit of lying,” 75-year-old Lee Won Hee says.

“We should appear to in order to make a deal but we shouldn’t fully trust them because now they’ve got their nuclear programme, they can turn on us at any time.”

On the island, the unfinished war – the Korean War effectively ended in 1953, but a peace treaty was never negotiated -mixes with daily life.

Soldiers stationed to protect the border, muck in down at the farm as music from the regime floats across the water.

Gyodong Island is less than two miles away from North Korea
Image: Gyodong Island is less than two miles away from North Korea

On a rocky outcrop opposite, Pyongyang has embedded two huge speakers to pump out propaganda.

Residents say they’re so used to it that it’s like a “lullaby”, something they hardly even notice.

This extraordinary way of life is also becoming a draw for tourists.

Until 2014, the island was totally isolated, but a new bridge now connects it to the mainland, while look-out points offer people a glimpse of North Korea.

Lee Won Hee does not fully trust North Korea
Image: Lee Won Hee does not fully trust North Korea

But one of shopkeepers who is now benefiting from the new trade never meant this to be home.

Before Korea divided, Choi Bok Ryull fled by boat from the now Pyongyang-owned territory opposite.

When the country split, so did his family.

His brother was imprisoned and murdered by the regime.

Now 88 years old, he says this week’s talks are his final chance of seeing peace on the peninsula.

Choi Bok Ryull's brother was imprisoned and murdered by the North Korean regime
Image: Choi Bok Ryull’s brother was imprisoned and murdered by the North Korean regime

“I think unification will happen at some point. Because we are one nation,” he explains.

“We saw Germany unify, it happened by people’s will. Maybe ours will be the same?”

More from World

There is a long way to go before the fences that surround the island can be pulled down and the enemy across the water can again be welcomed as friends.

The island is only 2 miles from North Korea
Image: Despite living on so close to North Korea, few of the residents seem afraid

However, the inter-Korean summit offers a fresh hope of peace, a new chance that the shadow of war will finally be removed.

From – SkyNews

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