The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, contrary to its name, is one of the most militarized borders in the world. While war between the two nations is at an armistice, there is still a looming threat as verbal and physical fighting occurs regularly. This keeps both countries on edge, especially the soldiers protecting the border. One of the surprising ways a group of South Korean soldiers stationed at the base are easing their stress is through ballet.

Reuters reports that one day a week, Lee Hyang Jo, a ballerina at the Korean National Ballet, visits the area to teach the men how to perform the dance. At first, she was unsure of how helpful she could be to them, considering that the army is tough in its own right. But as she taught them, the positive benefits were evident. Lee said, “…they laugh more and have a great time, and seeing that makes me think that coming here is worthwhile."

The program started in 2015 with the intention of helping the soldiers relieve their stress. Kim Joo Hyeok, a 23-year-old sergeant carrying out his mandatory military service at the DMZ said, "…through ballet, I am able to stay calm and find balance as well as build friendships with my fellow soldiers."

The art is not only good for the mind, but for the body as well.

"Ballet requires a great amount of physical strength and is very good for strengthening muscle, increasing flexibility, and correcting posture," said Lieutenant Colonel Heo Tae Sun.

For many of the men taking the classes, it was their first time dancing ballet. But would it also be their last time? Sergeant Kim said, “I think I’ll keep practicing even after the military service.”

Source and photos: Reuters

What are some of the ways you like to fight stress?