North Korea approves Gloria Steinem march across demilitarized zone

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North Korea on Friday endorsed a march by the feminist activist Gloria Steinem across the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates it from South Korea.

The Associated Press reported that Steinem plans to lead an all-female march called Women Cross DMZ. Organizers now hope South Korea will also approve the journey, tentatively scheduled for May 24.

“I wish I knew how the ultimate decision was made, but at this point I’m just relieved that at least we have Pyongyang’s cooperation and support,” co-organizer Christine Ahn told AP in an email.

Ahn said the walk aims at encouraging reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The landmass has remained divided since the Korean War ended in 1953.

{mosads}Women Cross DMZ is hoping that Steinem and 29 other women will successfully traverse the world’s most fortified border. Should they pass over the 38th parallel, they will navigate around deadly minefields and hundreds of thousands of tense soldiers.

“It’s hard to imagine any more physical symbol of the insanity of dividing human beings,” Steinem said last month at the event’s unveiling.

South Korea is still weighing whether or not to assist the group’s efforts. A similar request to the United Nation’s presence on the Korean Peninsula is also pending.

Two Nobel Peace Prize winners will join Steinem should the walk gain approval.

The first, Mairead Maguire, won her award in 1976 for founding the Northern Ireland peace movement.

The second, Leymah Gbowee, received her prize in 2011 for working to end Liberia’s civil strife.

The walkers plan on crossing via Panmunjom, a village straddling the border between the two adversarial nations. Organizers said they were inspired by similar crossings in 2013 and last year.

Ahn and the other organizers are using the walk to call on President Obama and the U.N. for a formal peace treaty ending the Korean War. That conflict ended in relative stalemate after an armistice in 1953. 

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