Hiking trail opens in the Korean Peninsula’s heavily armed demilitarized zone

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Hiking trail opens in the Korean Peninsula’s heavily armed demilitarized zone, where endangered species are flourishing

  • First of three hiking trails has opened on the Korean Peninsula with tours running twice a day, six days a week 
  • Pictures have emerged of the first hikers to tackle the trail, which is surrounded by barbed wire and mines
  • The DMZ is a 160-mile-long zone north of Seoul and was established at the end of the 1953 Korean War 

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A hiking trail where walkers can spot some of the world’s most endangered species has opened inside the Korean Peninsula’s heavily armed demilitarized zone (DMZ).

The Goseong-area route has opened on the eastern side of the DMZ in the first phase of what’s known as the ‘Peace Trail’ project.

It is one of three trails set to open on the peninsula, with tours running twice a day, six days a week.

The first group of hikers tackle the newly opened peace trail inside the Korean Peninsula's heavily armed demilitarized zone

The first group of hikers tackle the newly opened peace trail inside the Korean Peninsula’s heavily armed demilitarized zone 

The Goseong-area route has opened on the eastern side of the DMZ in the first phase of what's known as the 'Peace Trail' project

The Goseong-area route has opened on the eastern side of the DMZ in the first phase of what’s known as the ‘Peace Trail’ project 

The DMZ is a 160-mile-long zone north of Seoul and was established at the end of the 1953 Korean War to divide the two nations. Pictured are the vibrant blue Military Armistice Commission Conference Rooms, which straddle both North and South Korea

The DMZ is a 160-mile-long zone north of Seoul and was established at the end of the 1953 Korean War to divide the two nations. Pictured are the vibrant blue Military Armistice Commission Conference Rooms, which straddle both North and South Korea

The trail opened on Saturday and marked the first anniversary of the signing of the Panmunjom declaration, the first summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

A group of 20 hikers were the first to tackle the course, which is surrounded by barbed wire fencing and minefields and takes walkers from the Unification Observatory to the Mount Kumgang Observatory.

The DMZ is a 160-mile-long zone north of Seoul and was established at the end of the 1953 Korean War to divide the two nations.

Heavily land-mined, watched over day and night by snipers, surrounded by artillery and criss-crossed by patrols, it plays host to one of the largest concentrations of military might on the planet.  

The course is surrounded by barbed wire fencing and minefields and takes walkers from the Unification Observatory to the Mount Kumgang Observatory

The course is surrounded by barbed wire fencing and minefields and takes walkers from the Unification Observatory to the Mount Kumgang Observatory

Since it was created, it has almost been closed off to human interaction, which has allowed plants and wildlife to flourish.

Among the rare wildlife that has been spotted in the DMZ are crested shellduck birds. Rare red-crowned and white naped cranes have also been spotted in the zone.

The DMZ acts as a stopping off point for migrating fairy pitta and ring-necked pheasant birds, too.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, large creatures spotted in the zone include black bears, leopard cats and water deer.

Kim Seung-ho, head of the DMZ Ecology Research Institute, has been studying the wildlife in the DMZ almost every weekend for the past 20 years.

Among the rare wildlife that has been spotted in the DMZ are crested shellduck birds. Rare red-crowned and white naped cranes have also been spotted in the zone

Among the rare wildlife that has been spotted in the DMZ are crested shellduck birds. Rare red-crowned and white naped cranes have also been spotted in the zone

Heavily land-mined, watched over day and night by snipers, surrounded by artillery, and criss-crossed by patrols, the DMZ plays host to one of the largest concentrations of military might on the planet

Heavily land-mined, watched over day and night by snipers, surrounded by artillery, and criss-crossed by patrols, the DMZ plays host to one of the largest concentrations of military might on the planet

He says he is particularly interested in the rare migratory birds that come from Siberia to the warmer DMZ during the winter months.

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He told CNN: ‘If you were to do an experiment on how new species could be restored when the Earth has gone to ruins, the DMZ would be the best place.’

General Robert B. Abrams, the commander of the United Nations Command, which provides security and stability on the Korean Peninsula, said: ‘United Nations Command (UNC) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) government have demonstrated superb teamwork, collaboration, and coordination throughout the entire peace trail process and will continue to do so.

‘The ROK military has worked extremely long hours to ensure the success of this very important initiative, while assuring visitors their safety remains paramount.’ 



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