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South Korea to Resume Military Activities Along Demarcation Line With North

Published: June 11, 2024
(Image: South Korean soldiers lock a gate at a guard post near the the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, June 17, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

South Korea’s military has announced it will be suspending an inter-Korean military agreement, resuming all military activities along the demarcation line separating the two Koreas and the North West Islands.

Republic of Korea (ROK) President Yoon Suk Yeol made the Tuesday, June 4 decision to suspend the military agreement with the North, in response to Pyongyang’s decision to send hundreds of balloons carrying trash over the border.

A defense ministry official said in an emergency briefing: “The South Korean military makes it clear that it will take all necessary measures to protect the lives and safety of its people in response to North Korea’s provocations.” 

The large-scale spraying of filth balloons has “seriously threatened the safety of our people and caused property damage”, the official added.

Pyongyang on Sunday, June 2, said it had sent up 15 tons of waste paper using 3,500 balloons, while Seoul vowed “unendurable” measures against the North in response.

Under the military pact, both countries agreed to “completely cease all hostile acts against each other” that are the source of military tension and conflict. The two countries also engaged in ending military drills near the border.

In 2018, the deal came out after months of historic summit meetings between the two Koreas, but Pyongyang unilaterally declared last year it was no longer bound by it. Early this year, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — the North’s official name — revised its official stance on South Korea to explicitly define it as a separate and enemy state. This was a change from the previous attitude, which claimed there was a pathway to peaceful reunification. 

Since then, the North has deployed troops and weapons at guard posts near the military border.

According to a Reuters witness, about 50 North Koreans were seen from the South building up a fence, stretching a few hundred meters, leading to a guard post located on a border hill.

Reuters contributed to this report.