Tensions rise at the DMZ between North Korea and South Korea
North Korea nullified Thursday all agreements with South Korea designed to prevent an escalation of war along the DMZ between the North and South. Our reporter visits the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – the 2.5 mile wide buffer zone – amid the rising tensions.
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The North Korean announcement sets off alarm bells here by coming perilously close to threatening activities within the Joint Security Area where North Korean, South Korean, and American soldiers are on duty. Most of the time, they perform largely ceremonial roles manning the line between the two Koreas. But over the past 50 years, there have been more than a dozen North Korea incursions across the DMZ, shots have been fired, and at least four tunnels built under the DMZ by the North – one is now a tourist attaction.Skip to next paragraph
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The North Korean command does not mention this truce village in today's announcement, but says it may stop South Koreans from entering the economic zone next to Panmunjom at Kaesong, where more than 100 South Korean companies employ 40,000 North Koreans producing light industrial products.
The North Korean military also threatens “physical strikes” against South Korean ships entering North Korean waters – a reminder that clashes can break out any time in the West Sea near where the corvette Cheonan went down. North Korea for years has challenged the Northern Limit Line set by the UN Command after the Korean War below which North Korean vessels are banned.
And North Korea renews a threat to fire at South Korean loudspeaker facilities along the demilitarized zone if they resume broadcasting propaganda as they did before South Korea’s late President Kim Dae-jung initiated the Sunshine policy of reconciliation with the North in the late 1990s. South Korean officials say they’ll be ready to resume the loudspeaker barrage in two weeks, posing a challenge that North Korea may find difficult to ignore.
But on Thursday, an eerie silence hangs over this truce village. Tour leaders warn tourists about where and when to take photographs, reminding them that South Korean officers will confiscate cameras and notebooks if they break the rules.
At an observation post atop a wooded hill called Dorasan, vehicles are seen moving along highway toward the Kaesong complex carrying South Korean technicians and managers who run the factories.
“We do have special things right now,” says South Korean Sergeant Kwon Seok-ho, making certain that visitors do not step over a painted line beyond which photography of the view is banned. Still, he adds, “the transportation corridor is open.