Border incursions, fortifications by North Korea sets DMZ abuzz with activity

Posted on : 2024-06-19 16:30 KST Modified on : 2024-06-19 16:30 KST
North Korean soldiers have been seen building what South Korean military authorities believe to be anti-tank barriers along the Northern Limit Line
North Korean soldiers have been observed constructing anti-tank barriers in four places along the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea. The lengths of each barrier vary, with some in the dozens of meters and others in the hundreds of meters. Pictured are soldiers working on a barrier near the Donghae Line, a railway that connects North and South Korea on the eastern coast. (courtesy of the Joint Chiefs)
North Korean soldiers have been observed constructing anti-tank barriers in four places along the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea. The lengths of each barrier vary, with some in the dozens of meters and others in the hundreds of meters. Pictured are soldiers working on a barrier near the Donghae Line, a railway that connects North and South Korea on the eastern coast. (courtesy of the Joint Chiefs)

North Korean soldiers who crossed into South Korea while doing construction work in the Demilitarized Zone on Tuesday retreated North after the South’s military broadcast warnings.
 
This follows a similar incident that occurred on June 9, when the South Korean soldiers fired warning shots after dozens of North Korean soldiers who had come to work in the DMZ crossed the border.
 
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff announced Tuesday that 20 to 30 North Korean soldiers crossed the Military Demarcation Line, the de facto land border dividing North and South, by about 20 meters and retreated after the South Korean military broadcast warnings and fired warning shots.
 
“Taking into consideration that many of the North Korean soldiers were holding tools such as pickaxes, a construction site was nearby in the area, and the fact that the soldiers retreated as soon as our military fired warning shots, we can deduce that the soldiers accidentally crossed the border while navigating a space full of thick foliage and without proper roads, much like the incident that happened on June 9,” a Joint Chiefs official said.

North Korean soldiers are seen planting landmines in the DMZ to deter defections to South Korea. The smaller photo shows a landmine explosion which South Korea’s Joint Chiefs say led to multiple casualties. (courtesy of the Joint Chiefs)
North Korean soldiers are seen planting landmines in the DMZ to deter defections to South Korea. The smaller photo shows a landmine explosion which South Korea’s Joint Chiefs say led to multiple casualties. (courtesy of the Joint Chiefs)

 
The Joint Chiefs revealed that, since April, the North Korean military has been sending many troops to areas around the Northern Limit Line, which lies 2 km north of the MDL, and other regions in the DMZ to conduct various missions. The missions involve clearing vegetation, planting landmines, reinforcing roads, and installing anti-tank barriers. The Joint Chiefs views such activities as part of North Korea’s efforts to strengthen its security around the border.
 
“The North Korean military has always conducted activities such as planting landmines, creating barren land, and reinforcing roads annually every spring and fall,” the Joint Chiefs official added. “However, this year sees a bigger scale in operations as well as an increase in the number of troops involved. The installation of what are presumed to be anti-tank barriers is also a new move on North Korea’s part. These measures seem to be taken to strengthen internal control so as to block North Korean civilians and North Korean soldiers from defecting to the South.”
 
Installations presumed to be anti-tank barriers are being constructed in four locations (the western, center, and east fronts) along the NLL and stand at around 4-5 meters in height and tens to hundreds of meters in length. Anti-tank barriers block and defend against the movement of enemy tanks in the event of a conflict.
 
The Joint Chiefs official stated that the construction currently underway bears resemblances to anti-tank structures and obstacles previously built by the North, leading them to believe that these are indeed more of the same. 

“Since North Korea is still in the early stages of construction, anti-tank weapons are yet to be deployed,” they added. 
 
Some have speculated that this barrier means that after declaring inter-Korean relations to be those of “two states hostile to each other,” North Korea is building a barrier to create a tangible border along the MDL, much like the Berlin Wall, which was constructed during the Cold War. To such speculation, the Joint Chiefs cautioned that further analysis of the situation was needed and that it was “difficult to draw conclusions” at this point in time. 

The Joint Chiefs official also commented, “Despite suffering multiple casualties after several landmine explosions during their work on creating barren land and laying additional mines, North Korea is pushing forward to continue the work, no matter the consequences. We have seen several North Korean casualties transported on stretchers.”

By Kwon Hyuk-chul, staff reporter

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