Female activists including Gloria Steinem and two Nobel Peace laureates were denied an attempt to walk across the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea today, but were allowed to cross by bus and complete what one of them called a landmark event. The group of 30 women from 15 countries made a final appeal to authorities on both sides to allow them to walk across the demarcation line, but were turned down. The North allowed a South Korean bus to cross the demarcation line to pick them up on the North side of the DMZ and transport them over the border to South Korea. "We were able to be citizen diplomats," said Steinem, the 81-year-old feminism pioneer. "We are feeling very, very positive. We have received an enormous amount of support."
United Nations Command officials met the group inside the DMZ after they crossed the demarcation line, and allowed them to march again after the final checkpoint on the southern side. The group included Nobel Peace laureates Mairead Maguire, from Northern Ireland, and Leymah Gbowee, from Liberia. The women walked, carried banners, and sang on the North Korean side. Authorities on both sides said they could not guarantee the safety of the women had they walked across. Organizer Christine Ahn, a Korean-American peace activist, said the group initially wanted to walk through the symbolic truce village of Panmunjom, where the armistice was signed. Still, she said the crossing itself was a success and a "historic event" despite "governments setting boundaries."