Affter being initially rebuffed, economist Gareth Morgan has finally been granted permission to travel through Korea’s heavily fortified demilitarised zone.
The crossing is part of a 40,000-kilometre ride from Russia to New Zealand. He and five others will travel through the DMZ into South Korea at the abandoned village of Panmunjom.
The DMZ is a 250km buffer between the two Koreas, in which movement is controlled by the United Nations, while Panmunjom is the Joint Security Area where talks between the two Koreas are held.
In May the trip had been approved by the usually secretive communist north, and by the United States and New Zealand governments, but not by the capitalist south. Now South Korea has also given its approval. “I’m trying to remind the world that this is one people – they’ve had a 4000-year history and this bloody wall’s only been there 60 years,” Dr Morgan said.
He has a long-held affinity for the region, which has been divided since the Korean War ended in 1953.
The riders include his wife, Jo.
Jay Waters, executive assistant at the South Korean Embassy in Wellington, said the South Korean Government had granted permission because Dr Morgan’s group was “from a friendly country”.
Although Dr Morgan is recovering from a hernia, he said he would be ready to ride when the crew departs for Russia next week.