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Tours to inter-Korean border village to resume in Nov

Tours to inter-Korean border village to resume in Nov

After remaining suspended for more than a year, tours to the inter-Korean village of Panmunjom will resume in November, the Unification Ministry in Seoul said on Monday.

The suspension came in the wake of the African swine fever, which was confirmed in domestic pigs for the first time in South Korea in September 2019, while the North reported in May.

But presently, there have been no recent reports of the animal disease in Paju, the border city to which the village belongs, Yonhap News Agency reported.

In a statement, the Ministry said that the tours to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and other sites inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) are scheduled to begin on a limited basis on November 4, the official resumption will begin two days later.

"We plan to begin the tours in small groups to ensure safety for the visitors in accordance with the African swine fever situation and measures against Covid-19. We will keep an eye on the situation and gradually increase the number and size of the tours," it said.

The Ministry said that although South Korea neither consulted with the North nor notified it of the resumption plan, there would not be any security issue regarding the tour program.

"Currently, security guards from both sides work unarmed in Panmunjom, and we believe there is no security issue in resuming the tours," Yonhap News Agency quoted Yoh Sang-key, the Ministry's spokesman, as saying at a press briefing here.

The Ministry also plans to ease restrictions on visitors by extending the registration period and allowing individuals or families to apply.

Last year, the tours were only open to visitors who registered in groups of 30 to 40 people..