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S. Korean military resumes Panmunjom tour program

Posted April. 30, 2019 09:01,   

Updated April. 30, 2019 09:01


The Ministry of National Defense announced on Sunday to resume a tour to Panmunjom for the public starting from May 1. The decision has been made seven months after the United Nations Command and the two Koreas began discussion on the implementation of a code on free movement in the JSA last October. As per the agreement on the demilitarization of the JSA, unarmed guards walk public visitors through major spots.

The South Korean military says that some more visiting places have been added to the tour program including the footbridge on which South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took a stroll and had talks during the inter-Korean summit talk on April 27 last year, the commemoration planting spot and guard posts where unarmed South and North Korean forces are jointly on duty. Previously, the tour program included buildings T1, T2 and T3. Only a group tour with 30 to 45 persons is available. Further information is accessible on the websites of the National Intelligence Service and the Special Office for Inter-Korean Dialogue.

The military seems to hope that North Korea will take forward-looking steps toward discussing free movement in the JSA. The relevant talks were initiated between the United Nations Command and the two Koreas, but there has been little progress due to North Korea’s lack of engagement.

No more discussion has been ongoing since the third discussion last November. North Korea has not kept silent even after it received the codes on joint security duty and management co-written by the South Korean forces and the UNC. While sticking to its principle of excluding the UNC from JSA management, “North Korea has in effect closed its door to further dialogue since the ruptured Hanoi talk,” South Korean military sources say.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com