Etymology of Panmunjom (Panmunjeom / Pan Mun Jom)

Panmunjom was a small village that no longer exists, at the de facto border between North and South Korea. Panmunjom was where in 1953 the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed.

Today the nearby Joint Security Area is commonly referred to Panmunjom (also written as Panmunjeom or Pan Mun Jom); however, historically this is not correct, though common usage would disagree, as even the soldiers stationed there call it Panmunjom, and you can see it written on the uniforms of both Korean and American soldiers at the Joint Security Area.

On American uniforms Panmunjom is written as Pan Mun Jom (판문점 on ROK soldier uniforms).

The village of Panmunjom no longer exists, although the building where the armistice was signed still stands. It is on the North Korean side of the Military Demarcation Line in the Demilitarized Zone. Today the building is the North Korean Peace Museum, ironically named because it houses at least one of the axes used by North Korean forces in 1976 during the brutal axe murders of two United States Army officers during Kim Jong-il's consolidation of power.

Originally the village of Panmunjom was named Nulmoon-ri, but during peace negotiations there was a sign outside the tavern in Nulmoon-ri, written in Chinese for the benefit of Chinese delegates. The sign said, transliterated to English, Pan (Nul) Mun (Moon) Jom (Tavern). So for all the sobriety, sadness and tragedy surrounding the village and its historical symbolism, its name means nothing more than the village tavern, specifically, the Nulmoon Tavern.

With the exception of the Peace Museum, no traces of the original Panmunjom remain.