New Zealand motorcyclists ride across DMZ in rare North-South Korea border crossing

New Zealand motorcyclists cross North-South Korea borderPHOTO: New Zealand motorcyclists pass through the border area between North and South Korea (AFP: Truth Leem)

Five motorcyclists from New Zealand have made a rare crossing of the world’s most militarised border, as part of a ride for peace across North and South Korea.

The crossing was part of a 9,000 kilometre journey that began in the Russian city of Magadan, and aimed to traverse the mountain “spine” of the Korean peninsula, from Mount Paektu in the North to Mount Halla in the South.

Permission is rarely granted by either of the Koreas – let alone both of them – for foreigners to pass through the demilitarised zone (DMZ) that has divided the peninsula for the 60 years since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The bikers were allowed by the two Koreas to cross along a corridor near the west coast that has been cleared of landmines and is used by South Koreans visiting the jointly run Kaesong factory zone.

One of the riders, Gareth Morgan, says the trip, which the group calls ‘The Long Drop’ has been “wonderful” so far.

“We’re riding between Baekdu-san and Halla-san to make the point really that Korea has a 5,000-year history – it’s an amazing history,” he said.

“Korea really is one country – the issue we all face is how do we get back to that?”


His wife, Jo Morgan, says people had welcomed them wherever they went in the two weeks they spent riding through the North on their 650cc Suzuki trail bikes.

“They were great, they waved out,” she said.

“Many people sent their love to their families in the South – they feel like one people.”

In a brief despatch on Wednesday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) had reported the group’s visit to Mangyongdae — the birthplace of North Korea’s founder leader Kim Il-Sung.

“Being briefed on the revolutionary life of Kim Il Sung and his family members… the members of the group looked round historic relics preserved at the old home with good care,” KCNA reported.

The two Koreas remain split under a truce that ended fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Tensions peaked earlier this year as the North, under international sanctions for nuclear and missile tests, issued daily threats to attack the South and its ally the United States.

The crossing by the bikers comes as the two sides try to engage in dialogue, with Pyongyang seeking to rise above its isolation and Seoul trying to reverse years of hostility from the North.

Foreigners wishing to travel between the two Koreas usually have no choice but to fly via Beijing.

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