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Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
South Korean soldiers take part in a ballet class at a military base near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea on July 13, 2016.
BALLET ON THE BORDER

Photos: South Korean soldiers are fighting stress with ballet

By Johnny Simon

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.

Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
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
Most of the students at a recent session were first-timers.
Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
A ballet instructor helps a soldier with his stretches.
Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
Soldiers stretch before a ballet class.
Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
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.
Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
Soldiers watch TV as they take a rest .
Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji
A South Korean soldier looks at his ballet shoes