Reading about President Obama’s visit to the JSA and OP Ouellette this past weekend, reminded me of all the times I’ve been to the JSA/Panmunjom.

My first time was on December 31, 1996, the day after the bodies of North Korean commandos, who had been killed in a firefight with South Korean troops (many also committed suicide) were repatriated to North Korea through Panmunjom. These commandos were aboard a submarine which had run aground near Kangnung in September.

Standing there on that cold, damp winter day as I looked out across the windswept landscape toward the site of the 1976 Panmunjom Ax Murders and the Bridge of No Return made me feel as though I had just stepped into a Cold War thriller by Tom Clancy.

Just think how many U.S. Presidents have gone there and gazed out across the desolate, cold landscape while being stared down by North Koreans on the other side. In that time, two North Korean leaders have come and gone.

The Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed, and yet this last bastion of the Cold War, where an armistice was signed nearly 60 years that halted the Korean War, remains.

It is a scary place.