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(LEAD) Unification ministry to discuss resuming Panmunjom tours with UNC

North Korea 15:31 November 01, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details in paras 4-5)

SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Yonhap) -- The unification ministry said Monday it will begin discussions with the U.S.-led United Nations Command (UNC) to resume tours to the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom as South Korea began its "living with COVID-19" scheme meant to phase out coronavirus restrictions amid a rising vaccination rate.

Tours to Panmunjom, or the Joint Security Area (JSA), were suspended in July after health authorities imposed the toughest virus curbs in the greater Seoul area, home to half of the country's 52 million population.

"We are beginning discussions with the UNC and other related organizations on the resumption of tours to Panmunjom," ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-joo said during a regular press briefing.

The UNC said it has also resumed armistice education seminars for units stationed at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas.

"After a COVID social distancing pause, armistice education is back in full swing," the UNC wrote on Facebook. "They are back on the road this week, supporting clear, consistent and transparent adherence to the terms of the armistice."

The move is in line with South Korea's implementation of its first step to get back to normal life Monday on the back of a rising vaccination rate at over 75 percent.

Under the living with COVID-19 policy, South Korea plans to lift most of the virus curbs in phases by the end of January.

In the file photo taken April 19, 2018, South Korean and U.S. soldiers stand guard at the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom, north of Seoul, ahead of the historic inter-Korean summit talks at the village on April 27. (Yonhap)

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