SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's unification ministry said on Monday that it will resume the halted tour program to the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom in early November.
The tour program has been suspended for over a year since Oct. 1, 2019 when the African swine fever occurred in Paju, a South Korean border city to which Panmunjom belongs.
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the reopening of tours to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and other sites inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that has left the Korean Peninsula divided since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice.
The tour program will be resumed on Nov. 4 on a trial basis and the official launch will come two days later.
The ministry said the resumption will be made in small groups in an initial phase to ensure safety for visitors from the COVID-19 pandemic and the African swine fever. No case of the African swine fever has been reported in Paju since June.
It anticipated that the tour resumption will become a cornerstone for the demilitarization of Panmunjom and free travel as agreed in the Panmunjom Declaration and the military agreement, reached after the inter-Korean summits in 2018.