North and South Korea begin removing landmines along their heavily fortified border as part of peace summit deal

Monday, October 1, 2018
By Paul Martin

The two Koreas began to de-mine parts of the Demilitarised Zone on Monday
Relations between the countries, though technically at war, have thawed lately
South Korea and the U.S may have planted as many as 1.2 million mines south of the Demilitarised Zone while North Korea has likely put about 1 million on its side

1 October 2018

The two Koreas started removing landmines along a section of their heavily fortified border on Monday as part of a summit deal to ease military tensions.

The agreement between the nations – which are technically still at war – was reached at a meeting in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang last month.

The summit was the third this year between the South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un, following a rapid thaw in relations.

Under deals signed by their defense chiefs on the sidelines of the September summit, the de-mining of the Joint Security Area is part of a broader step to ‘disarm’ the zone and turn it to a ‘place for peace and unity.’

Both sides undertook to carry out landmine removal work at the JSA over a 20-day period, according to the South Korean defence ministry.

A spokesman said the operation had begun on both sides, though this was not confirmed by the North.

The JSA, also known as the truce village of Panmunjom, is the only spot along the tense, 250-kilometre frontier where troops from the two countries stand face to face.

It is often used as a venue for talks between the two Koreas.

The two countries will likely end up pulling out a very small portion of an estimated 2 million mines littered inside and near the Demilitarized Zone.

But it would be the rivals’ first joint de-mining work in more than a decade and comes amid international diplomacy aimed at ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

‘It’s the start of peace,’ said Kim Ki-ho, head of the private Korea Mine Clearance Research Institute. ‘We have to remove those mines, though we are not taking out all the mines at the Demilitarised Zone.’

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