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(LEAD) Panmunjom tours suspended to stem spread of African swine fever

All Headlines 11:24 October 01, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info at bottom)

SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry said Tuesday that it will temporarily suspend civilian tours of the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom as part of efforts to stem the spread of African swine fever.

The ministry said that it will suspend the Panmunjom tours from Tuesday in close coordination with the United Nations Command, which overseas activities in the area.

South Korea has confirmed nine cases of the highly contagious and deadly animal disease since mid-September. Most cases were reported in the north near the inter-Korean border.

The outbreak in South Korea came after North Korea reported an outbreak of the disease near its border with China in May.

South Korea allows hundreds of citizens and foreign travelers every day to visit the southern side of Panmunjom straddling the two Koreas in a highly controlled tour program.

As part of quarantine efforts, the recently built Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) hiking trails in the central and western border regions had been shut down from Sept. 19. A similar hiking trail on the east coast will also be closed from Tuesday.

A member of the leadership of South Korea's ruling Democratic Party waves towards a group of North Korean students during a visit to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom on May 31, 2019. The group was on a security tour of the village to mark the first anniversary of the April 27 joint declaration between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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