A New York Times story reports that a group of 30 female peace activists, led by abortion advocate Gloria Steinem, crossed the demilitarized zone (DMZ) from North Korea to South Korea on Sunday. The group, whose campaign is known as Women Cross DMZ, used the event to call for an end to the Korean War.
Steinem fan Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, honored her idol with the following tweet:
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) May 24, 2015
Steinem’s campaign, however, ran into trouble in South Korea, where the government denied the women permission to walk through Panmunjom, a village in which a truce was signed in 1953 that halted the conflict, yet left Korea in a state of war down to today.
Detoured to an area southwest of Panmunjom, the women were once again banned from crossing the border into South Korea on foot and had to ultimately fulfill their mission by bus.
“We have accomplished what no one said can be done, which is to be a trip for peace, for reconciliation, for human rights and a trip to which both governments agreed,” Steinem reportedly told the South Korean news media. “We were able to be citizen diplomats.”
According to the Times, North Korea appeared unaffected by Steinem’s campaign:
Just two days before the women’s arrival in Pyongyang, the North’s state-run media hurled one of its harshest — and most sexist — screeds against President Park Geun-hye of South Korea, calling her “a fork-tongued viper” and one “not worth calling a woman” because “she has never given birth to a baby.”
In addition, while North Korean television depicted women in colorful traditional garb welcoming Steinem and the other activists along a main street in Pyongyang, hundreds of South Koreans reportedly accused the activists of “flattering Kim Jong-un” and promoting a “fake peace.” These protesters said the activists had allowed themselves to be used as propaganda by North Korea.