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Seoul, March 31 – The South Korean government on Friday said all 11 peace-themed hiking trails along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas will be open to the public starting April 21.
The trails are located in 10 cities or counties bordering the DMZ — Ganghwa, Gimpo, Goyang, Paju, Yeoncheon, Cheorwon, Hwacheon, Yanggu, Inje and Goseong (which has two different trails), reports Yonhap News Agency.
The DMZ, measuring about 250 km long and 4 km wide, is one of the world’s most heavily fortified borders, with the rival Koreas technically in a state of conflict, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The program offers a unique opportunity for tourists to reflect on the meaning of freedom and peace while learning about the ecological, cultural and historical values of the area from experienced guides.
Each course is composed of sections where participants can travel either on foot or by car.
While most of the sections are traveled by vehicle for the safety of participants and protection of wildlife, some sections are designed only for walking to allow participants to fully immerse themselves in the experience, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The government opened three hiking routes in Paju, Goseong, and Cheorwon on a trial basis in April 2019, but had to temporarily close them due to an outbreak of African swine fever and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Five new routes were added in November 2021, but the entire program was soon closed again for the protection of migratory birds and to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
However, the Yeoncheon and Inje routes were completed last year, and now all 11 trails will be accessible to the public beginning next month.
Online reservations for the tours will be available from Friday on the DMZ Peace Road website, according to the Ministry.