The first time someone suggested that Korea should be divided in two taking as the dividing line the 38th parallel north, was when both the Russian Empire and the Japanese Empire wanted to control this area in 1896. Eventually, the Japanese Empire took control of Korea, until 1945, when it was forced to surrender it to the control of the Allies in the post-war.
After that, while negotiating what would fall under American and Soviet authority, the Americans suggested that Korea be divided following the 38th parallel north between the two powers, the territory underneath being the border. After the Korean war ended in 1953, a demilitarized zone was established between the two Koreas, trying to put a stop to any further combats. This area also follows the 38th parallel.
Despite being an area of great tensions between the two countries, where soldiers stand riffles in hand on both sides, this demilitarized zone has a very surprising feature. It is an enormous ecological reserve, a “green ribbon”, that hosts a big number of different species of fauna and flora. Even some species that have disappeared in other parts of Asia have been found there.
What is outstanding is thinking how a place that arose from war could become a biodiversity sanctuary, where peace seems to reign. It also reminds us of one of the things that will be lost if one day a war between the two Koreas breaks again. Check out pictures of this reserve on National Geographic, or read more about it here.