Tae-seong-dong free village, South Korea -- for decades, a village of 188 people enjoyed benefits few in South Korea enjoyed, with men exempt from compulsory military service and 46 families given special tax breaks.
It's the reward of living in what was once called the scariest place on earth.
The village is the only place where south Korean civilians live in the heavily armed demilitarized zone separating the two koreas.
In recent weeks, villagers have received another prize: a fifth-generation, or 5G, ultra-fast communications network installed by KT, the country's leading mobile phone operator, in one of the first south Korean towns to install such a system.
It's more useful than my own children, said 73-year-old gao jinzhi. "they all live outside." Villagers call the world outside their narrow borders "the outside."
Ms. Gao demonstrated that in case of a medical emergency for her or her husband, with 5G services, village leaders and community centers can be immediately notified by pressing a button on a handheld device. "It's useless to call 911," Mr. Gao said, "because they can't come here."
As South Korea struggles to build one of the world's first nationwide 5G networks, tae-seong-dong has become an attractive candidate to showcase its high-tech prowess to the world and its bellicose neighbors.
The Korean war ended in 1953 with a temporary truce that carved out the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two koreas to separate the warring forces.
Nearly all of the villagers have been driven out of the two-and-a-half-mile buffer zone, which has become one of the world's most heavily guarded borders, a minefield of barbed wire, tank traps and large Numbers of combat-ready troops on both sides.
Any attempt to defect across the border could trigger a hail of gunfire.
Only two villages were allowed to stay inside: tae-seong dong, on the south Korean side of the demilitarized zone, and the north Korean village of jekyong-dong, a mile across the border.
Since then, the two villages, neighbors for centuries, have been banned from communicating. That left pu bishan, an 82-year-old villager from taichengdong, unsure whether his brother was still alive in the jijingdong cave.
In the decades after the war, tae-seong-dong and jijingdong became pawns in the propaganda war between the two koreas, with each investing in their own model villages to highlight the merits of their respective political systems. Today, according to south Korean soldiers, kijingdong is almost empty, and the once bright light paint on the apartment building is fading.<-->纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com<-->
However, South Korea's determination to keep tae-seong-dong's population intact comes with challenges. The villagers are giving up many of the freedoms and services that other koreans take for granted.
South Korean soldiers accompany villagers as they risk their lives to reach rice paddies just 1,300 feet from the border. There is a curfew from midnight to dawn, and there are house-to-house calls at night.
Villagers who invite friends from outside the DMZ must apply for permission two weeks in advance. Once the car enters the DMZ, the navigation map goes blank. Soldiers must escort all visitors.
There is no gym, no hospital, no supermarket, no restaurant. If villagers wanted to order Chinese food, the trucks could only reach the last military checkpoint outside the demilitarized zone. The food has to stay there and the villagers have to pick it up themselves.
Four buses come from the village every day.
Transportation is the biggest headache, especially for people like me who don't drive, Mr. Gao said.
The new 5G services aim to ease some of that burden.
Before 5G arrives, rice farmers must also ask for military escorts to use pumps in reservoirs a mile away. Now, they can do it at home via an app on their smartphone. The same application can also be used to control sprinklers in bean fields.
For years, women here wanted to take yoga classes, but no instructor came. Today, yoga classes can be streamed on a large screen in a community center.
At the village's only school, taicheng dong primary school, students can now play interactive online games. On a recent visit, they could be seen happily throwing real balls at virtual targets that ran down the wall.
These facilities are important for the survival of the school. Like other south Korean villages, tae-seong-dong has seen many young couples move to the big city in recent decades. Today, only seven of the school's 35 students are local. The rest arrive daily by bus from wenshan, the nearest town outside the demilitarized zone.
At the school, students enjoy personalized attention, with 35 students and up to 21 teachers and staff. This and other incentives have made the school popular with wenshan parents. This year, 16 wenshan children applied for a place in the first grade.
You can learn a lot here that you can't learn in other schools, said Heo ye-rin, a sixth grader who commutes from wenshan every day. "When we go out on an after-school trip, we don't have to pay a penny because the government will pick up the TAB."
美国主导的联合国军司令部(United Nations Command)参加过朝鲜战争，并留下来执行停战协定，司令部的一名美国军官每周免费来学校上两节英语课。
An American officer from the american-led United Nations Command, which fought in the Korean war and stayed behind to enforce the armistice, came to school two times a week for free English lessons.
We want our kids to grow up with some good memories of the men and women of the United Nations command, said Lt. col. Sean Morrow of the U.S. army.
莫罗中校指挥的部队负责守卫非军事区内的联合安全区(Joint Security Area)。非军事区包括台城洞和附近的板门店，后者现在已经没有跨越边境的平民居住。去年4月，朝鲜领导人金正恩在这里会见了韩国总统文在寅，今年6月，他又在这里会见了美国总统特朗普。
Lt. col. morrow commands forces guarding the Joint Security Area of the demilitarized zone. The DMZ includes taicheng dong and the nearby village of panmunjom, which no longer houses civilians crossing the border. North Korean leader Kim jong UN met with south Korean President moon jae-in here last April, and he met with U.S. President Donald trump here in June.
Such high-level diplomacy helps ease tensions along the border. Today, tae-seong-dong looks like any other village in South Korea, with golden rice fields glistening in the autumn sun.
But "don't be fooled by appearances," said Chun in-bum, a retired south Korean general, noting that north Korean soldiers keep a close eye on tourists outside. "This is no ordinary place. All peace here is maintained by dedicated soldiers."
Villagers here often witness the ebb and flow of inter-korean tensions.
A few decades ago, villagers stepped on landmines left over from the war and were even kidnapped by north Korean soldiers. Kim dong-gu, 50, the village chief, said they were often evacuated from their fields to bomb shelters when tensions were high.
Despite the recent thaw, villagers still conduct evacuation drills twice a year. North Korea's propaganda broadcasts, a daily annoyance here, finally disappeared last year after the two koreas agreed to shut down loudspeakers on their border.
While political leaders talk about easing tensions, we still live in a tense situation as the two armies confront each other, said Kim yong-sung, 49, a bean farmer in the village.
As the two south Korean leaders met in panmunjom, Kim jong-un was greeted with flowers by two elementary school students in taicheng dong.
I'm scared, but also curious about the dictator in north Korea, said Sin jae-hyeok, one of the students. "After meeting him, I think his image in my mind has improved a little."