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South Korea says some DMZ tours to resume after US soldier crossing
South Korea says some DMZ tours to resume after US soldier crossing
Asia
South Korea says some DMZ tours to resume after US soldier crossing
by DZRH News22 November 2023
FILE PHOTO: A South Korean soldier stands guard in the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea, February 7, 2023. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File photo

By Hyunsu Yim

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea said on Tuesday some tours of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas will restart for selected guests for the first time since they were suspended after a U.S. soldier dashed across the border four months ago.

The DMZ tours, which are popular with foreign tourists, were halted after U.S. Army Private Travis King crossed into North Korea in July while on a tour. He was later handed back by the North and returned to the United States where he faces charges.

A tour will take place on Wednesday, attended by people with ties to South Korea's Unification Ministry, though tours for the general public remain suspended, said the ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

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These special tours, attended by 20 people, will take place three times a day, four times a week, it said.

The resumption comes after the unification ministry met with the commander of the United Nations Command (UNC) General Paul LaCamera on Monday to discuss strengthening cooperation, the ministry said.

"We will work to resume general tours after thoroughly reviewing all the issues including the safety of the public with United Nations Command," the ministry said in a statement.

The U.S.-led UNC is a multinational military force and oversees affairs in the heavily fortified DMZ between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war.

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The UNC had indefinitely suspended all tours around the tightly controlled village of Panmunjom, known formally as the Joint Security Area (JSA), after King's unauthorised crossing.

Before the incident, tourists seeking to brush up close to the authoritarian reclusive North regularly visited the JSA - a cluster of buildings that has hosted inter-Korean talks and where troops from both sides stand almost face to face.

(Reporting by Hyunsu Yim; Editing by Ed Davies and Gerry Doyle)

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