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S. Korea opens hiking trails on heavily armed DMZ


IANS Seoul
The UN Command (UNC) has approved phase one of South Korea's "Peace Trail" project, which will allow travellers to experience the abundance of wildlife that's thriving on the Korean Peninsula's Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), described as the world's most heavily armed border.
The first approved trail is located in Goseong, in Gangwaon province on the east side of the Korean Peninsula, CNN reported on Monday.
A Goseong tour programme launched on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the Panmunjom Declaration signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Visitors begin their hike at the Unification Observatory and trek past barbed-wire fences before arriving at the Mount Kumgang Observatory.
"The UN Command and South Korea government have demonstrated superb teamwork, collaboration and coordination throughout the entire 'peace trail' process and will continue to do so," said Gen. Robert Abrams, leader of the UNC, in a statement on Sunday.
"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 DMZ is a 257-km-long no-man's land about 48 km north of Seoul that was established in the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement.
For over six decades, this area has been closed off from human interference, barred with fences and landmines all across the region which has become an unintended refuge for all sorts of endangered species, from migratory birds to wild mammals, such as red-crowned cranes, white-naped cranes, mandarin ducks, musk deer, mountain goats and more.
There are even reports of the critically endangered Amur leopard sightings inside the DMZ.
The National Institute of Ecology of South Korea says there are about 6,000 different species of flora and fauna living inside the DMZ.

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First Published: Apr 29 2019 | 9:10 AM IST

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