This photo provided by Gyeonggi Province shows the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas. (Gyeonggi Province)
Gyeonggi Province, surrounding Seoul, has established a new five-year plan for the preservation and peaceful use of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the heavily fortified inter-Korean border area, officials said Sunday.
The plan calls for the provincial government to invest 170 billion won ($149 million) from 2021 to 2025 in various projects to lay the grounds for a long-term national vision of turning the 4-kilometer-wide zone bisecting the peninsula into a peace, ecology and tourism belt.
The DMZ has served as a buffer between the two Koreas since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. The two countries remain technically at war as the conflict ended in an armistice, not in a peace treaty.
The blueprint consists of 34 projects under five strategies.
The first nine projects aim to preserve the rich flora and fauna of the no man's land and promote its ecological values, which will cost 78.5 billion over the five years.
The province will work for the designation of the DMZ as a UNESCO biosphere reserve and its inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It will also organize education, tourism and arts programs related to the natural environment of the DMZ.
Another eight tasks are aimed at building infrastructure for its peaceful use, including cultural and tourist villages, walking trails, bicycle paths and tourist facilities near the DMZ, with a budget of 52.9 billion won.
The local government will also push for four projects aimed at supporting inter-Korean peace efforts, including preparations to build a peace park in the DMZ and the construction of a memorial facility for the Korean victims of Japan's forceful mobilization during the colonial era (1910-45). The projects will cost 300 million won.
Another three projects will involve fostering international cooperation to remove land mines from the DMZ, and constructing parks and tourist facilities in areas between the DMZ and the civilian control line. A total of 10 billion won will be spent on the projects.
Gyeonggi also earmarked 28.2 billion won for six projects to raise international awareness of the DMZ, hold a culture and arts festival for Korean peace, and organize events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the 1953 armistice. (Yonhap)