Visitors to the DPRK will next week be prohibited from visiting the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and the nearby city of Kaesong, travel industry sources told NK News, due to the upcoming Kim Jong Un – Moon Jae-in summit scheduled for April 27.
Monday April 23 to Friday April 27 will see all tourists prohibited from visiting the two areas, both the Young Pioneer Tours and Koryo Tours companies told NK News on Tuesday.
The summit – which is set to take place at Peace House on the southern side of the Joint Security Area (JSA) – will mark the first time a North Korean leader has stepped into South Korean territory since the Korean War.
In addition, Koryo Tours’ General Manager Simon Cockerell told NK News that recent users of the highway connecting Pyongyang with the city of Kaesong had reported seeing numerous roadwork and repainting efforts ongoing there.
“There’s lots of potholes being fixed and filled,” Rowan Beard from the Young Pioneer Tours agency said. “Looks like they’re preparing for a smoother ride for the delegation on their way down.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Seoul-based DMZTours.com told NK News on Tuesday that the UN Command had requested all South Korea-based agencies suspend tours to Panmunjom for the duration of April.
The spokesperson said the extended closure had been necessitated by preparations for the summit meeting and post-summit activities scheduled there.
Despite the intensity of roadway construction efforts between Kaesong and Pyongyang, the April 27 summit won’t be the first time Kim Jong Un has traveled to the border with the South.
Kim visited the border village of Panmunjom in March 2012, peering across the border using binoculars and inspecting a stone monument featuring an engraving of Kim Jong Il’s signature.
He conducted the visit with General Kim Yong Chol, then head of the General Reconnaissance Bureau (RGB), among others.
The JSA most recently made headlines last November when it was the site of a North Korean soldier’s daring defection to the South.
Following the incident, DPRK authorities introduced a range of new countermeasures to prohibit people defecting across the border.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: NK News
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Featured Image: by nknews_hq on 2015-09-07 10:07:08