The international women’s group “Women Cross DMZ” plans to walk with North and South Korean women across the world’s most heavily fortified boarder, the De-Militarized Zone (DMZ), hoping to bring an end to the Korean conflict and press demands for reunification.
This rare crossing of the two-mile wide area has surprisingly been approved by both the Koreas, and is supposed to take place on May 24 – the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament.
The group of female peacemakers includes well-known American feminist and sociopolitical activist Gloria Steinem along with two Nobel laureates. “Women Cross DMZ” also plans to organize two international peace symposiums in both Pyongyang and Seoul.
“We have no illusions that our walk can basically erase the conflict that has endured for seven decades,” said Christine Ahn, the international coordinator for the group. “I believe that we are, basically by crossing the DMZ, breaking through this mental state that this is a permanent division.”
She also brushed off the criticism that this peace march is just a publicity stunt.
The event has also raised controversy, where critics claim the participants are furthering the propaganda of North Korean government. The activists, however, say that the march is intended to be a symbolic step toward ending the tensions between both sides.
“There is nothing in this action that reflects prioritizing of one or another government,” the group said. “To the contrary, we have prioritized reunification of families, equity and justice for women living on both sides of the DMZ and a peaceful solution to the only remaining Cold War division.”
“Thousands of Korean elders die every year waiting on a government list to see their children or siblings after being separated by the DMZ,” the website reads. “That’s why women are walking for peace, to reunite families, and end the state of war in Korea.”
2015 also marks the 70th anniversary of peninsula’s division into two separate states after the 1950-53 war.