Possible attacks by Pyongyang against South Korean citizens is causing local schools to cancel student excursions to the Mount Paekdu region, along the Sino-North Korean border, sources said Sunday.
Seoul's foreign ministry issued warnings that the North may be planning some kind of attack against South Koreans, which could include kidnapping.
The education ministry and the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education also sent official letters to all schools not to arrange trips to Mount Paekdu and nearby cities like Changchun, the capital of Jilin Province.
The mountain is held as sacred by all Koreans and is popular among South Korean tourists because it can be reached from the Chinese side of the border. Many visit the region because there are many historic landmarks of the Koguryo kingdom (37 B.C.-668 A.D.) that once ruled much of Manchuria.
Since the mass defection of North Korean restaurant workers from China in April, the government has been warning that the communist country may target South Korean citizens in reprisal.
The North claims that Seoul outright kidnapped or tricked the 13 restaurant staff members into defecting and warned repeatedly and publically that it will take revenge for the criminal act, although not going into details of what action it will take.
"We had originally planned to go on a field trip to Mount Paekdu in July and August, but we are in the process of changing the destination," said a high school teacher at a private school in Songpa, in southwestern Seoul.
He said the school is getting feedback from students and parents on where to go.
The Seoul education office said some 50 schools sent students abroad last year, with most being private primary schools, as well as foreign language and specialized high schools.
"If they go to China, they usually go to Beijing or Shanghai, although some do go to the Sino-North Korean border region," an insider said.
The official said all foreign trips must get permission from the local school commissioner and require at least 80 percent approval by parents. He, however, said school authorities will continue to remind schools of the dangers of traveling near the North Korean border. (Yonhap)