A South Korean soldier stands guard in the village of Panmunjom, inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea, February 7, 2023. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

SEOUL — South Korea said on Tuesday that some visits to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas will resume for selected guests for the first time since they were suspended after a U.S. soldier crossed the border four months ago.

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

A visit will take place on Wednesday, with the participation of people linked to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, although visits by the general public remain suspended, said the ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

These special tours, with the participation of 20 people, will take place three times a day, four times a week, he 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 visits after thoroughly reviewing all issues, including public safety, with the United Nations Command,” the ministry said in a statement.

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

The UNC has indefinitely suspended all visits to the tightly controlled village of Panmunjom, known formally as the Joint Security Area (JSA), following King’s unauthorized crossing.

Before the incident, tourists seeking to get closer to the authoritarian and reclusive North regularly visited the JSA – a group of buildings that hosted inter-Korean talks and where troops from both sides come almost face to face.


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