Gov’t ministers pledge to turn DMZ into hub of peace-themed education and tourism (Korea)

(Reposted from: Yonhap News Agency.  August 14, 2018)

SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Yonhap) — The education and culture ministers and educational superintendents from all across the country on Tuesday pledged cooperation to transform the heavily-guarded demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas into a hub of peace-themed education and tourism.

Education Minister Kim Sang-kon, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-whan and educational superintendents of 10 cities throughout the country made the pledge during a visit to Panmunjom, also known as the Joint Security Area, in the DMZ, and Camp Greaves, a former U.S. army base situated just south of the border.

The visit follows a government announcement last month that it will develop the DMZ into a hub of international peace tourism, creating tours to the walking path and the bike path that run west to east along the DMZ.

In Camp Greaves, they attended a performance by guitarist Yang Tae-whan, who performed during the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February, and met students on a DMZ tour. The former American military base, located some 2 kilometers south of the DMZ, is now a tourist attraction. It is famous for serving as a filming site for the hit 2016 TV show “Descendants of the Sun,” starring Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo.

“The education ministry and culture ministry have shared the need to build an image of peace on the DMZ at a time when the warm wind of peace and reconciliation is blowing toward the Korean Peninsula,” the culture ministry said in a release. “As the first step to build the image of peace, we invited educational superintendents from 10 cities and provinces.”

“We’ll support the efforts by developing various field-trips to the DMZ in cooperation with city and provincial educational offices,” Kim said during the trip. “We’ll also make efforts to have peace education designed to increase students’ susceptibility to peace take root on the school scene.”

The visit also came weeks after the defense ministry announced that it will seek to withdraw troops and equipment from the guard posts inside the DMZ on a trial basis. The ministry said the measure is part of efforts to transform the heavily-armed border into a symbol of peace between the two Koreas under the Panmunjom Declaration made at the inter-Korean summit on April 27.

The ministers were also accompanied by Ahn Young-bae, president of the Korean Tourism Organization, and officials from the Gyeonggi provincial government during the trip.

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