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North Korea decries Seoul's UNESCO World Heritage plan for DMZ

North Korea dismissed the idea of a DMZ Peace Zone on Friday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
North Korea dismissed the idea of a "DMZ Peace Zone" on Friday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

March 20 (UPI) -- North Korea state media said Friday the South's push to inscribe the Korean demilitarized zone as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is an "inconceivable idea," highlighting possibly differing perceptions of the border that divides the two Koreas.

Pyongyang propaganda service Uriminzokkiri said Seoul's Cultural Heritage Administration's plan to jointly register the DMZ as a world heritage location with the North is inappropriate, given the symbolism behind the heavily fortified border.

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"For over 70 years, the demilitarized zone of the military demarcation line has been a symbol of national division, suffering, confrontation and hostility, and it is still the most acute site of military confrontation between the North and the South," Uriminzokkiri said.

"How can the barbed wire of division, the wreckage of war and the concrete barriers of resentment that must be removed as soon as possible become the object of joint preservation and pride among our people, and become a world heritage of outstanding value?"

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North Korea state media went on to condemn the "foreign powers" and "their quislings" for "dividing the Korean people." The conversion of the DMZ into a tourist destination, "a place to make money," is a "rash act missing a [figurative] gallbladder," Uriminzokkiri added.

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Last year at the United Nations General Assembly, South Korean President Moon Jae-in had floated the idea of a "DMZ peace zone," a symbol of reconciliation Moon has championed as part of his diplomacy with the North.

"The DMZ is the common heritage of humankind, and its value must be shared with the whole world. Once peace is established between the two Koreas, I will work together with North Korea to inscribe the DMZ as a UNESCO World Heritage Site," Moon had said.

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North Korea's DMZ border is mostly closed to the South. The regime typically trades across its other border, with China.

The 880-mile border is becoming the receiving point for medical aid for North Korea amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Wednesday the group's supplies of equipment, including $15,000 worth of safety glasses, stethoscopes and virus transport media have arrived at the Chinese border city of Dandong. MSF said it working with U.N. agencies to deliver the goods to North Korea, according to Voice of America's Korean service.

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DMZ Peace Trails open to hikers in Korea

A tourist hangs a message of peace on a "hope tree" along the DMZ Peace Trail. Visitors can hang plastic "leaves" with messages on the tree. One message, addressed to a father and grandfather, read: "Now that I'm at the DMZ, I'm hoping for reunification. Rest in peace." Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI | License Photo

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