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Tours to inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom to resume soon: UN command

In this Dec. 16, 2019, photo, South Korean army soldiers stand guard at the Unification Bridge, which leads to the Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea. The U.S. is closely watching North Korea for signs of a possible missile launch or nuclear test in the coming days that officials are referring to as a “Christmas surprise.” (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

SEOUL, Sep 28, 2020, Yonhap. The US-led United Nations Command said Monday it has authorized the resumption of a civilian tour program to the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom amid eased concern over the African swine fever, and the date of the resumption will be announced soon, The Korea Herald reported.

Since September last year, tours to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and other sites inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) have been suspended as part of an effort to stem the spread of the highly contagious animal disease.

“Due to the successful containment efforts and the reduced number of infected swine in the region, the ROK government formally rescinded their request to the UNC to lift the restriction of DMZ access,” the command said in a statement. ROK is the acronym of South Korea’s official name, the Republic of Korea.

The UNC administers Panmunjom and the broader DMZ as an enforcer of the armistice that halted the 1950-53 Korean War.

UNC Commander Gen. Robert Abrams authorized the resumption “for routine visitation beginning in the near future,” it added.

Over the past year, South Korea reported a total of 745 African swine fever cases, most of them near the inter-Korean border areas, such as Hwacheon, Yeoncheon and Paju, according to the environment ministry.

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