Koreans Join Forces to Begin Removing Landmines From Border
October 3, 2018
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & BBC News
The Korean War began in 1950, and 68 years later a peace deal is still not finalized. There is hope, however, as troops from both Koreas are active along the demilitarized zone, removing some of the estimated 800,000 landmines buried around the area.
North, South Korea Begin Clearing Landmines From Border
Joint Security Area expected to be cleared in 20 days
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(October 1, 2018) – The Korean War began in 1950, and 68 years later a peace deal is still not finalized. There is hope, however, as troops from both Koreas are active along the demilitarized zone, removing some of the estimated 800,000 landmines buried around the area.
It took generations to mine that long demilitarized zone at the border, and it's going to take a long time to totally clear it. Work is starting in the Joint Security Area (JSA), the narrowest part, near the truce village of Panmunjom.
The hope, according to those familiar with the work, is to totally demine the JSA within the next 20 days. After that, guard posts and all weapons will also be removed. This will leave the JSA with unarmed troops stationed inside.
Both sides have made several moves to lower tensions along the border over the course of 2018, as North Korea's Kim Jong Un and South Korea's Moon Jae-in have had three successful summits. Clearing the JSA of landmines, however, is the biggest move yet along the demilitarized zone.
Both leaders are seeking a peace treaty to end the Korean War, though the US has been somewhat resistant to the idea. If completed, the demilitarized zone would itself be dismantled, and the two nations would have a proper border without generations of military hardware parked along it.
Koreas Begin Clearing Landmines from Heavily Fortified Border
(October 1, 2018) -- Troops from North and South Korea have started removing some of the more than 800,000 landmines buried along their border, officials say. In the South, clearing has started at the heavily fortified Joint Security Area (JSA) in the village of Panmunjom.
Mines will also be removed from a separate site where hundreds of soldiers were killed in the Korean war.
The move was agreed when the leaders of the two Koreas, Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, met last month in Pyongyang.
All landmines in the JSA, which is the only portion of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) where forces stand face-to-face, are expected to be removed by military personnel within the next 20 days, South Korea's defence ministry said in a statement on Monday.
When the work is completed, guard posts and weapons will also be removed, leaving unarmed troops stationed in the area as part of measures to manage tensions along the border, the statement added.
In April, South Korea said it had stopped broadcasting propaganda via loudspeakers along the border to "ease the military tension between the two Koreas". It has now started taking down the loudspeakers.
The DMZ is a strip of land 250km (155 miles) long and 4km (2.5 miles) wide that runs across the Korean Peninsula It is currently heavily mined and fortified with barbed wire, rows of surveillance cameras and electric fencing.
Swathes of bare land are littered with large rocks and anti-personnel landmines.
It is also closely guarded by tens of thousands of troops on both sides, making it almost impossible to walk across.
In November last year, a North Korean soldier was shot and injured by his own military as he crossed to the South Korean side of the JSA in Panmunjom.
According to South Korean officials, the number of North Korean defectors to the South has fallen since Mr. Kim came to power seven years ago.
Relations between the North and the South -- who are still technically at war despite the end of the Korean War in 1953 -- have markedly improved in recent months.
Earlier this month, the leaders of the two countries met in Pyongyang for talks that centred on the stalled denuclearisation negotiations.
It came after a historic meeting between Mr. Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June in which the pair agreed in broad terms to work towards a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.
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