Bottled Water Mania: South Korea Sells H2O from Demilitarized Zone


The bottled water industry has branded itself by importing water from pristine streams and mountain springs in some of the world’s most exotic places: Fiji, Tahiti, the Swiss Alps. Now you can go ahead and add North Korea’s Demilitarized zone to that list.

If you weren’t seduced by bottled water companies touting the natural, spiritual and physical benefits of wherever their H2O comes from, now you can down a beverage originating in one of the most guarded and protected areas on earth.

DMZ 2km is South Korea’s newest brand of bottled water, selling water from a spring that runs under the Demilitarized Zone, the 4 kilometer-wide buffer zone South and North Korea. What benefits does DMZ 2km water have over the competition? Apparently it’s all about branding, or as some might call it, greenwashing.

“We decided on water from the DMZ because it’s different and the environment there is untouched, so many people think it’s clean,” says Lee Sang-hyo, a spokesman for the company, quoted in the Guardian.

Even if people think the source water is cleaner, you have to wonder what DMZ water will do that others don’t. Make you more skilled as an international negotiator? Make you sleeker and stronger so you look better in an army outfit?

No matter its purported incredible qualities, DMZ 2km is just another brand of bottled water contributing to the industry’s overall impact. Seduced by water from far-off springs and streams, and the convenience of bottled beverages, consumers easily forget about the real effects of bottled water and the industry behind it.

In 2007, the U.S. bottled water industry alone accounted for $11.5 billion. On a global scale, in 2008, over 53 billion gallons of bottled water were consumed. These are not small numbers. Marketing another hip brand of bottled H2O promotes consumption and further waste, so stick to drinking tap water in a reusable bottle.

Photo credit: Guardian

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.