Founded in 1997 by two Korean-Americans, the DMZ Forum is a New York–based non-profit organization dedicated to conserving the unique biological and cultural resources of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). As a tense buffer zone between North and South Korea, largely untrammeled by humans over the past half-century, the two-mile-wide DMZ has become an unintentional nature reserve: it is home to a wide variety of rare plant and animal species, and has the potential to inform scientists and citizens about nature’s reclamation powers. The DMZ Forum aims to harness the DMZ’s resources and transform it from a symbol of war and separation to a place of peace.
The DMZ Forum is guided by the vision of a peaceful, united Korean peninsula with shared biological and cultural resources. Among its current programs, the group aims to win approval from both the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to establish an Environmental Peace Park with UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
A 2016 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network supported the creation of the DMZ Memorial Park, a joint project between North and South Korea, the United States, China, England, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Turkey, Ethiopia, South Africa, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Colombia to commemorate the 4 million soldiers and civilians killed during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. The grant funded the establishment of the DMZ Memorial Park by planting ikkal trees.
A 2014 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network helped the Forum conduct a field survey of a region near the North Korean side of the DMZ, which will assist in transforming the area, once devastated by war, into an agro-forestry zone.
A 2011 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network allowed the DMZ Forum to plant 7,000 trees in North Korea, where mountains are mostly deforested and remain bare with heavy rain and flooding every year.