Critics are questioning what really got accomplished at a peace march Sunday, where American activist Gloria Steinem and a group of female peace activists crossed the demilitarized zone at the border of North and South Korea.
The group, called Women Cross DMZ, had intended to walk across the border, but ended up taking a bus after failing to secure the necessary permissions from South Korean officials.
There was backlash in South Korea, where some critics viewed the march as a propaganda opportunity for the North. Multiple outlets report representatives of Women Cross DMZ were misquoted in North Korean media as supporting the regime there. (Video via Korean Central Television)
Other critics say the activists aren't focusing on the real humanitarian issues.
"They say, 'Sure, it's a peace march, but that's just symbolic, and it doesn’t highlight enough' — exactly what you're referring to. These human rights abuses we know are happening in North Korea," said CNN's Kathy Novak.
One member of Women Cross DMZ explained to The Wall Street Journal the group must prioritize: "You can get to human rights when you have a normal situation and not a country at war."
North and South Korea have existed in a technical state of war since July 1953 when they signed the armistice agreement that ended the open fighting of the Korean War. (Video via U.S. Army Pictorial Services)
Activists, including Women Cross DMZ, are calling on the Koreas to move to a full peace treaty.
Women Cross DMZ, meanwhile, is the first foreign group to travel through the DMZ checkpoint since a group of Russian nationals drove the route in 2014.
This video includes an image from Ms. Foundation for Women / CC BY 2.0.
Thank you for reading the Dayton Daily News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to exclusive deals and newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Dayton Daily News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.