New Zealand bikers roar across Korean border on ride for peace

PAJU, South Korea Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:23am EDT

1 of 4. A U.S. Army vehicle escorts two New Zealanders driving their motorbikes as they arrive at the CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) office, just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul August 29, 2013. Five motorcyclists from New Zealand travelled through North Korea, beginning on August 16, 2013, and reached the South on Thursday by crossing over the DMZ, local media reported. The five New Zealanders wanted to use their visit to wish for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Credit: Reuters/Lee Jae-Won

PAJU, South Korea (Reuters) - Five motorcyclists from New Zealand made a rare crossing of the world's most militarized border on Thursday as part of a ride for peace from the top of North Korea at Mount Baekdu to the South Korean island of Jeju.

On a journey home from Russia's Far East, the bikers were allowed by the two Koreas to cross along a corridor near the west coast that has been cleared of landmines and is used by South Koreans visiting the jointly run Kaesong factory zone.

"We're riding between Baekdu-san and Halla-san to make the point really that Korea has a 5,000-year history. It's an amazing history," said Gareth Morgan, one of the riders.

"Korea really is one country. The issue we all face is how do we get back to that?" he said after crossing into the South on the trip that his group calls "The Long Drop."

The two Koreas remain split under a truce that ended fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War. Tensions peaked earlier this year as the North, under international sanctions for nuclear and missile tests, issued daily threats to attack the South and its ally the United States.

The crossing by the bikers comes as the two sides try to engage in dialogue, with Pyongyang seeking to rise above its isolation and Seoul trying to reverse years of hostility from the North.

Morgan said earlier the group had "an amazing amount of cooperation" from the North. Foreign visitors to the reclusive North are rarely allowed access to parts of the country without government minders tailing them.

(Reporting by Dogyun Kim and Sanggyu Lim; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by John O'Callaghan and Ron Popeski)

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