Defence Notes

Koreas to shut down some border guard posts

21st August 2018 - 10:02 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Seoul


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North and South Korea have agreed to close some guard posts along their border on a trial basis, Seoul's defence minister told parliament on 21 August amid a rapid diplomatic thaw.

The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that has divided the peninsula since the end of the Korean War in 1953 is, despite its name, one of the most fortified places on earth, with the areas on either side of it bristling with minefields and barbed-wire fences.

Song Young-moo said the South would withdraw around 10 guard posts as part of confidence-building measures following the landmark summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South's President Moon Jae-in in April.

Song told lawmakers: ‘What it means is that we will first withdraw one or two guard posts and gradually expand it.’

He added that the North would take reciprocal measures.

Song said: ‘The North and South agreed to withdraw guard posts that are closest to each other. The closest is about 700 metres away and we will begin withdrawing guard posts that are within one kilometre.’

A defence ministry official told AFP the issue was still being discussed and declined to clarify whether the posts would be physically removed.

The 1950-53 conflict ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically at war. The DMZ, designated as a buffer zone, bisects the Korean peninsula and is about 4kms wide.

It includes a Joint Security Area around the truce village of Panmunjom, where negotiations take place.

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