North Korea has decided to support a proposed walk across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two Koreas by prominent women, including US feminist Gloria Steinem, and organizers say they hope South Korea will give its approval as well.
Co-organizer Christine Ahn told reporters that North Korea gave permission this week after she visited Pyongyang. The walk proposed for May 24 is a call for the reunification of the two countries.
The DMZ is the world’s most fortified border, with the two Koreas still technically at war. The walk would mark the 70th anniversary of the division of the Korean Peninsula.
The walk would include two Nobel Peace laureates, and Ahn says North Korean women will walk with the group from Pyongyang to the DMZ.
Organizers of the effort, called WomenCrossDMZ.org, have said they hope for 30 women to cross from North Korea to South Korea on May 24, which is International Women’s Day for Disarmament.
The DMZ is one of the most highly charged places in the world. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers face off across the heavily mined zone that separates South Korea from North Korea.
“It’s hard to imagine any more physical symbol of the insanity of dividing human beings,” Steinem said during last month’s announcement of the walk.
Ahn said she had meetings in Pyongyang in the past week with officials from the country’s Overseas Korean Committee and Democratic Women’s Union. She said she received support to hold a symposium in North Korea on women and peacebuilding as well.
“I wish I knew how the ultimate decision was made, but at this point I’m just relieved that at least we have Pyongyang’s cooperation and support,” Ahn said in an e-mail.
A North Korean diplomat to the UN, Kim Song, last month told reporters the proposal was being discussed in his capital.
Ahn and the other participants are also calling on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a South Korean, as well as US President Barack Obama and the leaders of North and South Korea to take the necessary actions to finally end the Korean War with a peace treaty.
The women have said they take heart from successful crossings of the DMZ by five New Zealanders with motorbikes in 2013 and by 32 Korean Russians by motorcade last year.
This new attempt includes Nobel peace laureates Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, who worked to end those long-running conflicts.
Ahn said the women are being advised by former US ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson, and that the UN Command at the DMZ has said they would be willing to facilitate their crossing once South Korea’s government gives its approval.
VULNERABLE: Many women do not report sexual harassment by their landlord over fears they could lose the roof over their head, an expert said A growing number of landlords are asking tenants for sex in exchange for housing as COVID-19 lockdowns and job cuts have left many struggling to pay their rent, housing experts said. A survey by the National Fair Housing Alliance of more than 100 fair housing groups combating discrimination across the US found that 13 percent had seen an increase in sexual harassment complaints during the pandemic. “If I did not have sex with him, he was going to put me out,” one woman facing eviction by her property manager told the alliance in an podcast on its Web site. “As a single
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,