Go to contents

Are Pyongyang’s moves meant to nullify inter-Korean agreement?

Are Pyongyang’s moves meant to nullify inter-Korean agreement?

Posted June. 08, 2020 07:46,   

Updated June. 08, 2020 07:46


Insiders and outsiders of the South Korean military said follow-up measures to the recent warning by Kim Yo Jong, the head of the United Front Department at North Korean ruling Workers’ Party, to abolish the September 19 inter-Korean military agreement could be the North’s display of forces on multiple fronts aimed at nullifying areas subject to halting of hostile activities. The buffer areas in airspace, sea and land are the centerpiece of the military agreement designed to prevent accidental skirmishes between the two Koreas. Pundits say the North could stage a string of military measures or provocative actions discarding the agreement in succession to induce the South Korean military to respond, thus escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Watchers raise the possibility that the North could revoke the pilot withdrawal of guard posts at the frontiers in the demilitarized zone (DMZ), which has been considered the biggest achievement from the agreement. Earlier in November 2018, the North demolished 10 GPs through the use of explosives and the South did the same by using excavators. The two Koreas decided to hold discussions about the removal of all GPs by eval‎uating the achievements, but have seen no progress. The North Korean military could also make a show of forces including deployment of its troops to areas very close to the military demarcation line, or violate the provision in the agreement that bans artillery drills in areas within five kilometers from DML.

People raise voices that the North could fire coastal artillery guns up to or across the Northern Limit Line to South Korean waters in the Yellow Sea. They further say that the North’s provocative acts run counter to the provision banning artillery fire in buffer zone waters around NLL in the East Sea and the Yellow Sea - 80 kilometers in the Yellow Sea, 135 kilometers in the Yellow Sea, which could prompt the South Korean military to take corresponding measures. “The North could revive the recognition that NLL is an area of fiercest confrontation and send out the message that the designation of a maritime peace waters and pilot joint fishing areas in the Yellow Sea, which Seoul has been demanding, has become out of the question,” a South Korean military source said.

Pyongyang could go even further to take the measures of firing the 14.5 heavy machine gun by targeting propaganda leaflets sent through the use of balloons by South Korean activists to the North, which Kim Yo Jong singled out as the main cause for abolishing the military agreement. It could also move to send its MIG-29 fighter jets across the tactical action line (Tal) up to the skies over Kaesong in a show of threatening flight. TAL is a virtual line drawn over the sky 20 to 50 kilometers from MDL, and if a North Korean fighter jet crosses the line, South Korean fighter jets make sorties immediately to counter it.

“The North is considering a scenario in which it seeks to hold the South responsible for rising tension, which is caused by Pyongyang’s provocations and show of forces, and justify its nullification of the military agreement,” another military source said.

Sang-Ho Yun ysh1005@donga.com