Seoul, Nov 4 (efe-epa).- Tourist tours to the southern side of the militarized border that separates the two Koreas resumed on Wednesday after being suspended for more than a year due to an outbreak of African swine fever.
In October 2019, the South Korean authorities decided to indefinitely suspend tourist tours to the Joint Security Zone (JSA), 45 kilometers (28 miles) northwest of Seoul and the only part of the border where soldiers from both countries face each other, after capturing dozens of infected wild boars in the zone.
The outbreak, which was first detected in September last year, led to the culling of around half a million pigs on South Korean farms and the construction of hundreds of kilometers of additional fencing on the farms to prevent livestock contact with these wild boars, believed to be the main source of infection.
The start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 has also complicated the reopening of guided tours to the JSA, coupled with escalating tensions between the two Koreas, which are technically still at war.
In fact, in June, North Korea blew up a joint liaison office with the South in the city of Kaesong, located on its territory – just 8 kilometers from the JSA – in protest of the propaganda sent by activists from the South.
South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young urged North Korea on Wednesday to restore cross-border lines of communication, which Pyongyang chose to severe to coincide with the demolition of the liaison office.
Lee made these remarks at a ceremony at the JSA to mark the resumption of guided tours.
“I also hope the South-North joint liaison office will be restored swiftly and surely and put back in operation,” said the minister, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.
Lee also urged the North to implement the military agreement to ease tension around the border that was signed at a summit between the leaders of the two countries in Pyongyang in September 2018.
The deal provided for the free movement of people from both sides in the JSA, including on the northern side. EFE-EPA