North, South Korea Begin Clearing Landmines From Border

Joint Security Area expected to be cleared in 20 days

The Korean War began in 1950, and 68 years later a peace deal is still not finalized. There is hope, however, as troops from both Koreas are active along the demilitarized zone, removing some of the estimated 800,000 landmines buried around the area.

It took generations to mine that long demilitarized zone at the border, and it’s going to take a long time to totally clear it. Work is starting in the Joint Security Area (JSA), the narrowest part, near the truce village of Panmunjom.

The hope, according to those familiar with the work, is to totally demine the JSA within the next 20 days. After that, guard posts and all weapons will also be removed. This will leave the JSA with unarmed troops stationed inside.

Both sides have made several moves to lower tensions along the border over the course of 2018, as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in have had three successful summits. Clearing the JSA of landmines, however, is the biggest move yet along the demilitarized zone.

Both leaders are seeking a peace treaty to end the Korean War, though the US has been somewhat resistant to the idea. If completed, the demilitarized zone would itself be dismantled, and the two nations would have a proper border without generations of military hardware parked along it.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.