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Birdwatching near Demilitarized Zone

Cranes are seen during the winter season at Cheorwon, Gangwon Province (Cheorwon County)
Cranes are seen during the winter season at Cheorwon, Gangwon Province (Cheorwon County)
With the new year signaling the season of migratory birds, the DMZ Migratory Bird Watching Tour offering visits to vantage points in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, will available through the end of February.

Cheorwon is a popular sanctuary for migratory birds, such as cranes, wild geese and eagles, owing to the county’s vast plains that are rich in food and water. Along with water reservoirs and the Hantangang River, the region is close to the Demilitarized Zone, which remains relatively untouched since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The tour consists of stops at the Peace Observatory, the Ice-Cream Hill and Cheorwon DMZ Peace Culture Plaza.
The Crane Ecology Observation Deck at Sapseulbong, better known as Ice Cream Hill, in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province (Cheorwon County)
The Crane Ecology Observation Deck at Sapseulbong, better known as Ice Cream Hill, in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province (Cheorwon County)
The Ice Cream Hill is nicknamed after the shape of its peak Sapseulbong, which resembles an ice cream scoop as a result of countless bomb drops during the Korean War. Despite its tragic history, the place has become a favored spot for avid birdwatchers, since a large flock of cranes can be observed from there during the migration season. 

Cranes are state-designated Natural Monument Animals, and they are also classified as one of the most endangered species. Cranes are known to stay with a single mate for a lifetime, and symbolize longevity and fortune in Korea.

Out of some 2,700 cranes living worldwide, nearly half spend their winter in Cheorwon. This year, some 1,000 cranes and 5,000 white-naped cranes have arrived to spend their winter around the rice paddies and reservoirs in the area.

“We decided to operate the tour as many people want to observe the winter migratory birds,” an official from the Cheorwon County said. “We have also recently reopened the observatory deck around Hantangang River which was flooded last year.”

Cranes are seen during the winter season at Cheorwon, Gangwon Province (Cheorwon County)
Cranes are seen during the winter season at Cheorwon, Gangwon Province (Cheorwon County)
Meanwhile, the International Crane Center in Dongsong-eup’s DMZ Crane Peace Town opened in November, with the aim to serve as a base for the crane migration network of Northeast Asia. The three-story building has visitor-experience spaces, conference halls and accommodations.

Visitors can register for tours at the DMZ Crane Peace Town. Tours depart twice daily, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., except on Tuesdays. Up to 32 visitors can join each two-hour trip on electric buses.

Tours cost 15,000 won per person, but a 10,000 voucher that can be used in Cheorwon will be issued to participants.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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