jonathan lee returns from north korea

Remember youn Jonathan Lee? He's the 13-year-old American kid who recently traveled to North Korea on a mission of peace. Seriously. He's back, and says the trip went well, but he didn't get to meet with Kim Jon Il: US boy returns from outreach visit to North Korea.

The kid did get to meet with officials in Pyongyang and proposed his idea for a "children's peace forest" in the demilitarized zone dividing the Korean peninsula. They apparently welcomed the idea, but said it would only happen if the countries signed a peace treaty first.
"On this trip, I discovered that both sides want reunification and that Korea is one, so I see hope on the Korean peninsula," Lee, who made the visit with his parents, Kyoung and Melissa Lee, told The Associated Press.

Impoverished North Korea is one of the most isolated countries in the world and its hard-line communist regime is under United Nations sanctions for launching missiles and refusing to comply with nuclear weapons inspections. Since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a cease-fire and not an armistice, the U.S., South Korea and North Korea remain technically at war.

Lee, of Ridgeland, Mississippi, said the officials told him his proposed children's forest was dependent on North Korea first signing a peace treaty with the United States to formally end the war — a longstanding demand of Pyongyang's.
The 2 1/2 mile (4 kilometer)-wide DMZ is the most heavily guarded border in the world, sealed off with electric fences and studded with land mines, watchtowers and military bases.

Despite the political hurdles, Lee said he'll continue pushing the idea for a peace forest to allow interaction between children from the two sides and hopes to visit the North again next year.
Naive as he might seem, you have to at least admire this kid's conviction and desire for peace in the region -- and doing something about it. I don't know a lot of 13-year-olds who would even dream of attempting something like this.

It says that during his eight-day trip -- a rare visit, by any standard -- Jonathan was taken on a tour of the demilitarized zone. You know, I've been on a tour of the DMZ too -- from the other side. I wonder what the North Korea tour is like, and if there's a gift shop.

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