CrossFit at the DMZ

By Daniel A. Anderson – April 18th, 2018


On July 27, 1953, an armistice put a halt to open hostilities in the Korean War. As part of the Armistice Agreement, the 2.5-mile-wide Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was created, with the Military Demarcation Line running through its center. The heavily militarized border continues to be a point of conflict in a war without a peace treaty, and the tension between North Korea and South Korea has international repercussions.

The DMZ is a physical barrier between north and south, but it once represented an ideological line between East and West, a remnant of the Cold War. Though the Iron Curtain has fallen, North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has created a new flashpoint. After North Korea’s first test of nuclear weapons in 2006, a host of countries and international groups imposed sanctions on North Korea, creating increasingly tense relations.
In a small gym about 6 miles from the DMZ, CrossFit Paju head coach Park Yong Soo helps South Korean citizens, police officers and military personnel “train for the unknown,” he said through Google Translate.

Park said many soldiers have improved their physical abilities through functional exercises, which makes them more efficient and agile on missons. As in other parts of the world, CrossFit is perfect for firefighters, law-enforcement agents and soldiers, Park said. But the coach explained he’s now seeing evidence that people understand the connection between fitness and health: Doctors and rehab patients are also seeking out CrossFit training.

Chronic disease is a global problem that goes beyond borders and politics. Park said he’s looking to help others and wants to be part of the solution: He would like to join a sports-medicine department this year to acquire more specialized knowledge.
Despite the constant tension and uncertainty at the DMZ just a few miles north, Park is certain he wants to help people find health.

This article was originally published on the CrossFit Journal. You can find it here.

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About The Author

Neil Scholtz

Neil Scholtz is a certified Personal Trainer turned CrossFit coach. He has competed at the CrossFit Games and coached athletes that have competed at the CrossFit Games, but that's not his main focus. Most of his time is spent consulting or coaching individuals to improve their lives through fitness. He has worked with over 1000 individuals from various walks of life. Tailoring solutions to their lifestyle needs.