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CAMP BONIFAS, South Korea — Between soccer matches, the U.S. women’s national soccer team visited the Demilitarized Zone on Wednesday for an up-close look at the land separating the two Koreas.

Fifteen players and 14 staff members visited Conference Row and other sites with U.N. Command Security Battalion soldiers as their escorts.

They later visited the 3rd Tunnel, a secret North Korean tunnel discovered in 1978.

Players were struck by many of the same things the site’s 150,000 or so visitors talk about: the verdant ecosystem inadvertently preserved by the armistice, and the atmosphere as they crossed the heavily guarded Imjin River.

"It’s beautiful in certain areas," said forward Lauren Cheney. "Reality sets in, seeing the guns at the bridge when we arrived. It’s like something I would see in a movie."

Soldiers and commanders ate lunch with the team following their DMZ tour. Team members then received commander’s coins.

"The soldiers have been very friendly, and it seems like it means a lot to them that we came here," said midfielder Tobin Heath.

The team received the "distinguished visitor" tour, which includes a walk on the Bridge of No Return and other extras.

The team is in South Korea competing in the Peace Queen Cup tournament at the Suwon Sports Complex.

The USA team was 2-0, with wins over Australia and Brazil, heading into a Thursday afternoon match with Italy. With a win or tie, they would advance to the championship game at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets should still be available, team officials said.

For information on the tournament, go to www.ussoccer.com.


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