Taiwanese tourist wanders into North Korea military zone

Officer accompanied him back to tour group

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The Kumgang Mountain in North Korea.

The Kumgang Mountain in North Korea. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A Taiwanese tourist on a tour of North Korea left his group twice and ended up inside a forbidden military zone, the Liberty Times reported Saturday (September 7).

The Kumgang Mountain is one of the most popular tourist destinations in relatively isolated North Korea, but its position close to the border with South Korea makes it a sensitive area heavily patrolled by military personnel.

One participant in a Taiwanese tour left his group on two occasions during mountain hikes, attracting the attention of the North Korean military and leading to the suspension of the two guides for two months, according to the Liberty Times.

However, the traveler himself wrote on Facebook that on August 22, he had received permission from a guide on the bus to hike to a peak first and rejoin the group later.

On his way up, he had encountered many soldiers, but none of them was able to communicate with him. In the end, he found an English-speaking officer who told him the area was off limits to foreign tourists and who accompanied him back down to the rest of the group.

The travel operator said that if the situation had really been serious, the hiker would not have been allowed to leave, according to the Liberty Times. The traveler was a veteran mountaineer who had reportedly climbed 1,300 peaks all over the world.