North and South Korean personnel have completed disarming an
important section of the massive demilitarized zone that lies between
them, an unprecedented step amid a warming of relations between the
Officials from both sides of what has been
described as the world's most heavily fortified border—alongside members
of the U.S.-led United Nations Command—completed the removal of defense
posts, landmines and armed soldiers Thursday from the Joint Security
Area, where troops from both Koreas have stood face-to-face since the
ceasefire that ended their mid-20th-century conflict. Despite
technically remaining at war, North and South Korea have embarked on a
series of top-level meetings this year aimed at settling their
In the most recent inter-Korea summit last
month, North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean
President Moon Jae-in agreed to begin scaling down their countries'
military presence on the border. As a result, personnel began demining
activities at the beginning of the month.
authorities of the two Koreas and the UNC will make joint efforts to
ensure that the JSA disarmament, stated in the Sept. 19 military
agreement, will be implemented normally," South Korea's Defense Ministry
said Thursday in a statement, according to the official Yonhap News
U.S. has cautiously supported peace efforts between its ally South
Korea and foe North Korea. The U.S.-led U.N. Command that assisted in
the recent demilitarization efforts fought alongside South Korea in
battles against North Korea and its Chinese allies in the 1950s, a war
that ended in an armistice along the border that stands today. With the
Cold War long over, however, Washington's main concern is North Korea's
possession of nuclear weapons.
After a year of challenging Kim,
President Donald Trump ultimately embraced the young ruler's peace
overture toward Moon in January, a move that led to two inter-Korean
summits before Trump himself in June became the first sitting U.S.
president to meet a North Korean head. In exchange for peace, Kim vowed
to give up the weapons of mass destructions his country has long argued
were necessary for its protection.
The U.S. and North Korea have
accused one another in recent months of making insufficient progress
toward their pledge of bettering relations. Washington wants North Korea
to completely shutter its nuclear program before lifting international
sanctions and making peace. Meanwhile, Pyongyang argues that the
suspension of nuclear and missile tests, the return of U.S. soldiers'
remains and prisoners as well as the partial or whole destruction of
certain key military sites was enough to warrant concessions.
U.S. apprehensions, South Korea has moved forward with an ambitious
plan to forge ties with its northern neighbor. Moon has green-lit the
restoration of cross-border military communications, the linking of the
two countries' railroad systems and various projects designed to unify
the economies of the Koreas.
a reminder of the bloodshed that took the lives of millions on the
Korean Peninsula, personnel demilitarizing the border this month
discovered what the South Korean Defense Ministry said Thursday was
likely the remains of at least two soldiers who died fighting in the
Korean War. One of them was found with dog tags intact, reading "Pak Je
Kwon," who was believed to be a South Korean sergeant.
have pledged to conduct joint searches for other war casualties once
they complete the removal of mines from the area.