UNITED NATIONS — Making the ultimate statement in Korean relations, Gloria Steinem and other prominent women on Wednesday announced their plans for a rare and risky walk across the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to call for reunification.
The DMZ is the world’s most fortified border, with the two countries still technically at war. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers face off across the heavily mined zone.
Organizers of the effort called WomenCrossDMZ.org on Wednesday said they hope for 30 women, including two Nobel Peace laureates, to cross from North Korea to South Korea on May 24, which is International Women’s Day for Disarmament.
The walk also marks the 70th anniversary of the division of the Korean Peninsula.
The women say they are still seeking approval from both countries and the United Nations. There was no immediate response from North Korea’s mission to the U.N., the channel the women are using for their request. There was no immediate response from the U.N.
“It’s hard to imagine any more physical symbol of the insanity of dividing human beings,” said Steinem, a longtime advocate for women who has visited the South Korean side of the DMZ. “To me, to walk across it has huge, huge, huge importance.”
The women said they also soon will launch an online petition calling on U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a South Korean, as well as President Obama and the leaders of North and South Korea to take the necessary actions to finally end the Korean War with a peace treaty. The war ended in 1953 with the armistice.
The DMZ is one of the most highly charged places in the world. When Pope Francis last year held a mass on his visit to South Korea, Seoul Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung dedicated a “crown of thorns” to the pope made from its barbed wire.