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Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
A New Zealand couple on Thursday successfully led a convoy of five motorcycles across the heavily guarded DMZ, as part of a high profile “ride for peace” through the two Koreas.
The couple initially entered North Korea at the Russian border crossing of Tumangang on August 16, before riding south for two weeks to enter South Korea using a route normally reserved for access to the jointly run Kaesong Industrial Zone.
Having obtained rare inter-Korean approval to cross the border, the convoy is now able to complete a ride along the Baekdudaegan mountain range, which begins at Mt. Paekdu in North Korea and ends at Mt. Halla on Jeju Island, allowing them to traverse the entire longitude of the Korean peninsula by motorcycle.
Prior to entering North Korea convoy leader Gareth Morgan told NK News that beyond actually getting into North Korea, he was worried that his convoy might not be allowed to enter South Korea:
“Our biggest uncertainty is whether the South Korean government through its Ministry of Unification will be able to be flexible enough to facilitate our exit from North Korea.
“The South Koreans still seem to be struggling with procedural protocols and we are hopeful they will see the bigger picture here and do their best to enable this historic event to happen,” Morgan said.
While the rider’s plan originally scheduled a crossing at the Panmunjom border, Reuters reported Thursday afternoon that the bikers used a long a corridor near South Korea’s west coast to cross the border, normally used by trucks to enter the recently shuttered Kaesong Industrial Complex.
The Morgans have been embarking on long-distance journeys around the world since 2001.
Having started the current trip on July 23 in Magadan, Russia, the couple have since made their way across the Siberian mountains to Yakutsk, traveling southeast along the Chinese border towards the Russian town of Khasan, where they crossed into North Korea over the Tumen River.