N. Korea observes S. Korea's excavation + demining of the DMZ

Colin Watt, May 29, 2019, 9:23 a.m.

North Korea built a small observation post inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to closely monitor the demining and war remains excavation work under way south of the border, officers said Wednesday.

Since April, the South Korean military has been carrying out the project to remove land mines and recover war remains on Arrowhead Ridge, a battle site during the 1950-53 Korean War, in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province.

The two Koreas had originally planned to conduct the project jointly for six months starting in April in accordance with the inter-Korean military accord signed last September as part of efforts to reduce tensions and build trust.

But the North has not responded to calls to follow up on the agreement, leaving the South to do it alone.

"North Korea built a wooden, makeshift guard box inside the DMZ in May some distance away from its existing guard post, which apparently aims to get a better view for the surveillance," a South Korean military officer told reporters.

"From the new facility, which appears to house about two to three people, North Korean soldiers have been spotted closely monitoring our work," he stated, adding that any other specific military moves have not been detected.

Another officer said Seoul does "not regard the construction as a violation of the inter-Korean military agreement that calls for banning activities that heighten tension."

He also added that the guard post on Arrowhead Ridge is not among 11 border guard posts that Pyongyang vowed to demolish and disable in accordance with the military pact. Last year, both sides verified that their respective 11 guard posts in the border regions had been disabled.

Though South Korea has carried out the excavation project unilaterally, it "will be fully prepared for the swift implementation of the agreement in case North Korea makes a positive response to the joint launch," according to the defense ministry.

Over the past two months, the military found 325 pieces of bones believed to have come from around 50 soldiers, as well as 23,055 items, such as guns and military equipment, on the ridge. The project will last until October.

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