How tense can things get around here [in the Korean Demilitarized Zone]? One example:
Not far away, there's a marker where a yellow poplar tree used to grow. By 1976, it had gotten so big that the UN observation post at upper right couldn't quite see the goings-on at a checkpoint just out of the frame to the left.
At the time, soldiers from each side could move about the JSA [Joint Security Area] freely.
So a group of UN soldiers, including U.S. Army Cpt. Arthur Bonifas, went to cut the tree down. The North Koreans took exception, and pretty soon, a bunch of them ax-murdered two of the UN guys, including Cpt. Bonifas.
Ever since, soldiers from each side can no longer move about the JSA freely.
And that's why the camp where we got our briefing is called Camp Bonifas.
Three days later, a complex raid ("Operation Paul Bunyan") involving a reported 813 men, 23 vehicles, 7 Cobra attack helicopters, a parade of B-52 bomber and F-4 and F-5 fighter planes, and a US Navy aircraft carrier placed into position offshore...
... and managed to cut down the tree.
So, yes. Kinda tense sometimes.
--Rob Harris, Boing Boing, on visiting the Korean DMZ