BALLET ON THE BORDER

Photos: South Korean soldiers are fighting stress with ballet

It’s hard to imagine a job more stressful than guarding a border with North Korea. But at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides North and South Korea, a group of young South Korean soldiers have found a creative way to manage their tension: ballet lessons.

A ballerina from the Korean National Ballet leads the classes. Soldier Kim Joo-hyeok, 23, describes the activity as a way to “stay calm and find balance, as well as build friendships with my fellow soldiers.” Last week, on July 13, Reuters photographer Kim-Hong Ji captured Kim and his fellow soldiers during training, at home in their barracks and in the classes, as they deploy the grace and discipline of classical dance in order to learn balance and teamwork.

The Wider Image: Ballet classes for soldiers in South Korea
A ballerina leads ballet instruction for a class of South Korean soldiers. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
A line of soldiers practice with a ballet barre at a class in Paju, South Korea. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
The Wider Image: Ballet classes for soldiers in South Korea
Most of the students at a recent session were first-timers. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
The Wider Image: Ballet classes for soldiers in South Korea
A ballet instructor helps a soldier with his stretches. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
The Wider Image: Ballet classes for soldiers in South Korea
Soldiers stretch before a ballet class. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
Soldiers work on splits with a ballet barre at a class in Paju.
Soldiers work on splits with a ballet barre at a class in Paju. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

 

(Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
(Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
South Korean soldiers during firearms training at a military base in Paju.
South Korean soldiers during firearms training at a military base in Paju. (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
The Wider Image: Ballet classes for soldiers in South Korea
Soldiers watch TV as they take a rest . (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
The Wider Image: Ballet classes for soldiers in South Korea
A South Korean soldier looks at his ballet shoes (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)
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