Five New Zealand motorcyclists made a rare crossing of the world's last Cold War frontier Thursday, riding their bikes over the heavily militarised border from North to South Korea.
The crossing was part of a 9,000 kilometre (5,500 mile) 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 exception made for the biking group seemed largely based on good timing, as it coincided with an easing of North-South tensions and efforts by both sides to resume elements of cross-border cooperation. The mood jibed with the group's stated intention of celebrating the "unifying" nature of the peninsula's mountain range.
Jo Morgan, the only woman in the group, said 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 told reporters after crossing the border into South Korea. "Many people sent their love to their families in the South. They feel like one people," Morgan, 60, said.
Pyongyang and Seoul have just agreed to resume -- after a three-year hiatus -- reunions for families separated by the Korean War.
Her husband, Gareth Morgan, said the trip had been "wonderful" so far. "I won't really feel it until I am on top of Mount Halla, then I will have the sense of achievement that we did what we came to do," he said.
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.
"I'm trying to remind the world that this is one people - they've had a 4000-year history and this bloody wall's only been there 60 years," Dr Morgan said in an interview with The Dominion Post.
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