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Tuesday, October 27, 1998 Published at 08:24 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Korean cows breach cold war frontier

Chung Ju-yung's cows - trucking across the border

One of the world's most closely guarded borders - between North and South Korea - was opened briefly on Tuesday to allow 501 cows to cross it.

[ image: Waving off the bovine peace mission]
Waving off the bovine peace mission
The cattle were accompanied by one of South Korea's richest men - the founder of the Hyundai group, Chung Ju-yung, who organised the shipment to ease chronic food shortages in North Korea.

Mr Chung, who was born in the North, is expected to meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong- il, during his visit.

Making amends

This is the second shipment of cattle organised by the Hyundai founder. His earlier visit in June was overshadowed by controversy when 71 cows died and the North accused the South of a plot.

[ image: North Korea's famine has left hundreds of thousands starving]
North Korea's famine has left hundreds of thousands starving
The North Koreans later withdrew the accusation describing it as a misunderstanding.

Mr Chung, who is now in his 80s, says he ran away from home several times - and once financed a trip by by selling one of his father's cows without permission.

The gift of cattle is said to be a way for him to make amends for his youthful crime.

Cows and cars for peace

[ image: Kim Jong- il is to meet Mr Chung and his cows]
Kim Jong- il is to meet Mr Chung and his cows
The two Koreas are still technically at war. Divided at the end of the World War II, the separation led to bitter conflict between the two countries in the 1950s which has never been officially resolved.

Talks in Geneva a week ago made some progress towards coming up with a peace treaty nearly 50 years after the open hostilities ended.

[ image: Hyundai honorary chairman Chung Ju-yung - wants improved North-South relations]
Hyundai honorary chairman Chung Ju-yung - wants improved North-South relations
But while North Korea is suffering from a massive famine, it continues to isolate - and sometimes alienate itself from the rest of the world. In August, North Korea fired a rocket over Japan, which it said was to launch a satellite.

Mr Chung is playing a part in trying to improve relations and trade links between the two Koreas.

Along with the cows, he is driving some of Hyundai's most luxurious cars as a gift for Kim Jong-il.

And in return, Mr Chung has been promised the right to develop ski resorts and organised trips for tourists to North Korea which Hyundai hopes to start soon.

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