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UNESCO to help N. Korea's pest control efforts at ancient tombs

All Headlines 11:26 January 24, 2012

SEOUL, Jan. 24 (Yonhap) -- The U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said Tuesday it will help North Korea eradicate pests at forests near ancient tombs.

The Complex of Koguryo tombs, located in the North's cities of Pyongyang and Nampo, has some 30 individual tombs from the late period of the Koguryo Kingdom, which controlled the northern half of the Korean Peninsula and northeastern China for more than 700 years until 668 A.D.

The relics, along with murals inside the tombs, became the first UNESCO World Heritage site in the communist North in 2004 in recognition of their historical and aesthetic value.

"We are preparing to support Pyongyang's efforts to deal with damages by rampant insect pests at a pine grove surrounding the complex, as the pine blight would affect its status as the UNESCO heritage," said Kang Sang-kyu of the Korean National Commission for UNESCO.

According to the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, a coalition of South Korean civic groups, North Korea had asked for providing pesticide, citing the seriousness of the blight, when its officials visited the North's western border city of Kaesong last April to discuss ways to send aid to the vulnerable people there.

But the council has failed to meet the North's request since 2010 after inter-Korean relations have deteriorated due to the North's two deadly attacks on the South that year.

"If made, the move would be UNESCO's first case to help North Korea regarding its world heritage sites," Kang said. "We will discuss the matter with Seoul's Unification Ministry."

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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