Located in the Joint Security Area (JSA), the so-called "Bridge of No Return" crosses the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) between North Korea and South Korea. It was used for prisoner exchanges at the end of the Korean War in 1953. The name originates from the final ultimatum that was given to prisoners of war brought to the bridge for repatriation: they could either remain in the country of their captivity or cross the bridge to return to their homeland. However, once they chose to cross the bridge, they would never be allowed to return, even if they later changed their minds.
The last time the bridge was used for prisoner exchanges was in 1968, when the crew of was released and ordered to cross into South Korea via the bridge. The bridge was actively used by the North Koreans up until the Korean axe murder incident in August 1976, at which time the United Nations Command (UNC) demanded that the Military Demarcation Line within the Joint Security Area be enforced and clearly marked. Within 72 hours, the North Koreans had built a new bridge (dubbed "The 72-Hour Bridge") on the northern half of the JSA and the original Bridge of No Return was no longer used.
The Military Demarcation Line runs through the middle of the bridge. At the end of either side of the bridge are guard houses of the respective countries. The North Korean building is called KPA#4 while the United Nations Command checkpoint was called CP#3 (it was abandoned in the mid-1980s). CP#3, which is surrounded by trees, was only visible from one other UNC site during the winter months, OP#5 (now renamed to CP#3). The North's Korean People's Army (KPA) had made numerous attempts to grab UNC personnel from the old CP#3 and drag them across the bridge into North Korean territory.
Because of this proximity to North Korean territory, being surrounded on all access routes by North Korean checkpoints, and repeated attempts to kidnap the UNC personnel working there, CP#3 was often referred to as "The Loneliest Outpost in the World". As of 2003, the bridge is considered in need of repair. According to a report on CNN, the US government has offered to fix the bridge or even replace it, but North Korea has denied permission.