When Spring Comes to the DMZ is a beautifully illustrated and unique children’s picture book, tackling the topic of the Korean DMZ and the unfinished history of the Korean Peninsula. These issues are raised sensitively, via the medium of nature and exploring the animals and seasons in this demilitarised zone.

Korea’s demilitarized zone has become an amazing accidental nature preserve that gives hope for a brighter future for a divided land.

In the story we see Grandfather going up to the observatory and looking out over the DMZ, watching the salmon, spotted seals, and mountain goats freely follow the seasons and raise their families in this 2.5-mile-wide, 150-mile-long corridor where no human may tread.

This is a poignant book, and an interesting way to introduce children to the issues and conflicts of this part of the world. My children had not heard of the DMZ, or demilitarised zone, before so this book taught them a lot – in a way that is easy to digest and understand.

The detailed illustrations juxtapose the beauty of this nature preserve that has flourished in the DMZ since the creation of this zone in the 1950s, with the harsh realities of conflict such as barbed wire fences, warning signs and guards on each border. It is thought provoking and prompts a lot of questions and discussions with children who want to know and understand more. Children have a natural wish for peace, and this book reiterates that with grandfathers wish to go back to his homeland in the DMZ, and reunite with all of his family on both sides of the border.

This book is a bittersweet story, and a great addition to any child’s library to help them expand their knowledge and understanding of the world. It is best suited for ages 4-8 years old.

When Spring Comes to the DMZ by Uk-Bae Lee, is available via Amazon (Affiliate link)