We have this plan to ride our motorcycles down the length of the Korean peninsula, from the north of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) to the southern tip of the ROK (Republic of Korea). The reason is to show that if some insignificant, non-threatening individuals can enjoy the company of Koreans across the complete span of their homeland – the 24 million in the DPRK and the 49 million in the ROK – without any trouble or disturbance, then there is hope for peaceful coexistence for all Koreans. A “one people, two countries” motorcycling quest for détente is our next dream ride.
Reunification may have always been an unrealistic dream but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more achievable goals for the Koreas to reach. An outcome where Koreans can coexist in their respective countries, respecting the rights and sovereignty of each nation and the different values they hold, is such a simple objective. With that established, building upon the very modest trade and investment links that have already been established, would surely follow.
We have had a long association with the ROK dating back to the early 1980’s when Joanne first started trading and building friendships with Koreans in the south. New Zealand was at that time providing aid to South Korea, them being so much worse off than us. No longer of course.
From those early beginnings we saw the Korean peninsula as a desirable place to visit for pleasure – the language, the food and the mountains have all sustained that allure, we motorcycled the southern part of the peninsula on Hyosung machines in 2006. The blog from the motorbike tour in korea is here and the photo gallery here.
But this latest adventure is on a different level. The plan is that on our 2013 “Long Drop” ride from Magadan in the Russian Far East to Otorohanga in New Zealand we will, once we get south to Vladivostok, then enter the DPRK and progress down to Kaesong just north of the Demilitarised Zone. From there it’s a mere few miles to the border crossing at Panmunjom.
In June 2012 we made a quick visit to Pyongyang to meet the folks and see what the response would be to this idea of including the DPRK in our itinerary for 2013. We had a great time, were hosted warmly and found very strong support for the idea. See the Listener article on that experience here.
We are really hopeful that South Korea will see our project as positive for Koreans and we look forward again to riding our bikes through the DMZ and around that fantastic country again.