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South Korea will let you go for a hike along the heavily-armed DMZ

North Korean soldiers Panmunjom, Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ); North/South Korean Demarcation Line. (John Pavelka/Flickr)

Want to go for a hike along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea? Now’s your chance.

A Goseong-area hiking trail in South Korea’s Gangwaon Province is open, United Nations Command head, General Robert B. “Abe” Abrams, said in a statement. This is the first phase of South Korea’s “Peace Trail” project, which includes two other sites.

“United Nations Command and the (South Korea) government have demonstrated superb teamwork, collaboration and coordination throughout the entire ‘peace trail’ process and will continue to do so,” Abrams said. “The (South Korean) military has worked extremely long hours to ensure the success of this very important initiative, while assuring visitors their safety remains paramount.”

The 160-mile-long demilitarized zone, known as the DMZ, is located 30 miles north of Seoul. The heavily-armed border was created as a result of the 1953 Korean War Amistice Agreement to separate North and South Korea. It’s been closed off for more than 60 years and blocked with fences and landmines, though endangered species have migrated to the area because of the lack of humans.

Red-crowned cranes, mandarin ducks and mountain goats have made the area into an unexpected sanctuary – and evidently, a tourist destination.

A trial run of the Goseong-area tour program was expected to launch on Friday, according to The Korea Herald. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met a year ago in a historic summit.

In a visit to Taesung Village in the DMZ last year, USA TODAY noted it may look like a regular rural farming community, but South Korean soldiers escorted farmers to and from their fields every day to steer them clear of landmines.

There are 13 other DMZ educational sites aimed at providing inter-Korean exchanges and learning opportunities, according to the statement from Abrams.


© 2019 USA Today

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