Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Amid tensions with North Korea, South Korean troops re-arm in a border village


SEOUL: The United Nations Command (UNC) announced on Tuesday that previously unarmed international troops stationed on the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom on the border with North Korea can now carry guns.

The UNC, which is commanded by the United States and is a multinational military force, is in charge of affairs in the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, which are still technically at war.

Panmunjom, which has been a famous traveler objective, is referred to officially as the Joint Security Region (JSA) - a bunch of structures that has facilitated between Korean discussions and where troops from the two sides stand nearly eye to eye.

According to Colonel Isaac Taylor, the spokesperson for the UNC, the decision this month to allow UNC troops to carry guns came after North Korean soldiers of the Korean People's Army (KPA) had resumed "an armed security posture" in the region.

Taylor stated that the action was intended to safeguard both civilian and military personnel in the border region. "While UNC has also informed the ROK (South Korea's government) and KPA of its position that a disarmed JSA is safer and more peaceful for the Korean Peninsula, this action is being taken out of an abundance of caution," Taylor stated.

The two Koreas had made a deal to avoid furnishing their soldiers on the JSA under a 2018 between Korean military settlement, yet North Korean soldiers have been accounted for to convey weapons since November after an incomplete disentangling of the arrangement.

In protest against Pyongyang's launch of a spy satellite, South Korea suspended a portion of the agreement that was meant to reduce tensions at the border last month.

As a response, North Korea pulled out of the agreement and said it would increase its border forces and use new weapons.

Taking a visit to the DMZ has been a famous action for vacationers hoping to get a brief look at the isolated dictator state, yet the outings to the JSA were suspended after a US trooper ran across the boundary in July.

South Korea said some JSA visits restarted last month, however media reports said they had been suspended again because of expanded strains with the North.

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