Fear and fortitude characterise many of the residents whose homes nudge up against the land that splits the two Koreas
Woo Jong-il can see North Korea from his front yard.
He still remembers the moments when stray bullets would fly through the air, terrifying the hundreds of families scattered along the border. These days the retired dairy farmer is prepared: he has two concrete bunkers in case of an attack.
In just a few short steps, the 72-year-old can run out of his living room and down a short flight of narrow concrete stairs into a cold and damp box in the ground below his house, with only a single bare lightbulb. A larger bunker built into a hill is a five-minute walk through rice paddies.
But amid increasing tension between the US and North Korea, not even Woos two hideouts give him peace of mind.
I dont feel safe, this is the front line, Woo said in an interview at his home, an hours drive north of Seoul, the South Korean capital. Were in the most danger, its nerve-wracking. Weapons these days are so good, the front lines will be completely destroyed if war breaks out.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen sharply in recent weeks, after the US president, Donald Trump, said further threats from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, would be met with fire and fury and the North responded by publishing detailed plans to fire four missiles at the US territory of Guam.
On Monday, the US and South Korea began annual military exercises, which the North Korean state-run newspaper Rodong Shinmun was like throwing petrol on to fire and that the drills would worsen the situation.
The war games are reckless behaviour driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war, the paper said.
Amid the war of words and swirling geopolitical struggle are the hundreds of thousands of people living along the demilitari sed zone that separates the two Koreas, one of the most volatile borders in the world. Their lives are invariably shaped by their proximity to North Korea and all the uncertainty that comes with it, the Guardian found on a recent trip through the villages that dot the border region.
A trip to anywhere along the border reveals a countryside where military outposts are more common than petrol stations and armed soldiers man checkpoints to keep civilians from venturing too close to an area still scattered with landmines.
Here, red traffic lights are a suggestion rather than a command and rolling green mountains form a natural barrier in many places before giving way to flat farmland near the western coast north of Seoul.
But the border region is far from remote. In densely packed South Korea there are always signs of life and dozens of militarised tourist attractions catering to locals hoping to get a glimpse of their main enemy.
Woo was five years old at the start of the Korean war in 1950 and seven decades later still thinks any loud noise is a gunshot or a mortar. He is quick to explain: Thats not from my time in the army, its from growing up here.
Occasional exchanges of fire between North and South continued in Woos town up until 1970, when he decided to build the first of his bunkers below his house.
The smaller refuge can hold about 10 people, packed like sardines, and is a far cry from the Hollywood renderings of fallout shelters complete with creature comforts. The second bunker followed three years later but has fallen into disrepair as his children moved away and older members of the family died.