Recently, South Korea has approved a budget to build hiking trails inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas. The unification ministry’s Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Council, consisting of government and civilian experts approved 4.4 billion won (US$3.9 million) for the project.
This project is to turn the Cold War relic into a symbol of peace and will open a trio of hiking trails in the areas of Paju, Cherowon and Goseong within and along the DMZ. Out of the three, Goseong is expected to open in April 2019 for a test run. It is part of a larger inter-Korean agreement made in September 2018 to find ways to transform the DMZ into a zone of peace.
The demilitarized zone is about 250 kilometres long and 4 km wide and has been one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world. It has separated North and South Korea since 1953 and continues to do so while the two Koreas technically remain in conflict.
Extreme hiking trails along the Korean demilitarized zone
According to a report by Korea Times, this project is a follow up to an inter-Korean agreement last September to come up with practical measures to turn the DMZ into a peace zone. The Korean Times also noted that both North and South Koreas have since pulled out from 11 guard posts (GPs) each inside the area on a trial basis.
The relevant local municipalities will be provided with the approved funds to build toilets, install security cameras along the trails and purchase safety equipment for the tourists. As per the report, the unification ministry has affirmed that the construction of this project will be carried out with top priority and will be carried out to be sited on protecting the environment by using existing natural routes as much as possible.
Those wishing to hike in the Korean demilitarized zone will need to enter a draw available on the Ministry of Interior and Safety and the Korea Tourism Organization’s websites. They will also be accompanied by military personnel and be required to wear bullet-proof vests and helmets during their hikes.