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North Korea plants landmines on roads to the south; Kim’s move is seen as increasing the tension


Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Panmunjom ceasefire village is seen in the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea in April 2018.

SEOUL – North Korea has installed mines on all three roads between the two Koreas since December last year, South Korean military sources said Monday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who declared that his country had severed ties with South Korea, would like to increase tensions on the Korean peninsula with this measure.

All three roads are routes that symbolize dialogue or cooperation between the two Koreas. The westernmost road is the road leading to North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Complex, near the demilitarized zone separating the North and South, where South Korean companies operated until 2016. The easternmost road was used by people visiting the scenic Mount Kumgang in North Korea. by bus and other means.

According to the sources, North Korean soldiers and others have installed mines on roads on the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone. South Korean military troops stationed near the zone also confirmed that road lights there had also been removed.

Of the three roads, the central one is a short-distance unpaved road that passes through a plateau and connects North Korea with Cheolwon, Gangwon Province, northern South Korea. It was built under a 2018 North-South military agreement with the aim of jointly exhuming the remains of soldiers and others killed in the Korean War (1950-1953).

The agreement was signed during the administration of former South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was politically left-wing and took a soft stance toward Pyongyang. It provided for a cessation of all hostilities between the two Koreas. But Pyongyang effectively declared its withdrawal from the agreement last November.


Korea map WEB
The Yomiuri Shimbun

Kim Jong Un, also general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, said South Korea is the “main enemy” and gave up peaceful unification with the South late last year.

The number of buried mines and where they are buried are unclear, but it will certainly take a significant amount of time to remove the mines and repair the roads even if dialogue and exchanges between the two countries resume.

Before burying the mines, North Korea restored a monitoring station that had been removed from the demilitarized zone in November last year. South Korea is on high alert and believes that the North is gradually increasing pressure on the South.

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