UN Command says both Koreas violated Armistice Agreement in gunfire across DMZ

Posted on : 2020-05-27 17:51 KST Modified on : 2020-05-27 17:51 KST
UNC reserves judgment on whether N. Korea’s gunfire was intentional
A South Korean guard post in the DMZ flies the UN and South Korean flags. (South Korean Army website)
A South Korean guard post in the DMZ flies the UN and South Korean flags. (South Korean Army website)

The UN Command (UNC) concluded that both South and North Korea violated the Armistice Agreement with an exchange of gunfire between guard posts at the DMZ in Cheorwon County, Gangwon Province, on May 3.

“The investigation [by a UNC multinational special investigation team] determined the [Korean People’s Army] committed an Armistice Agreement violation when it fired four rounds of 14.5mm small arms fire from a KPA guard post located on the northern side of the Military Demarcation Line upon UNC guard post 250 on May 3 at 7:41 am,” the UNC said in a post on its official Facebook page on May 26.

It went to say the investigation had “determined that Republic of Korea Army guards responded to the KPA small arms fire 32 minutes later with two volleys of gunfire and two broadcast warnings toward North Korea.”

“The gunfire by ROKA guards violated the Armistice Agreement,” it added. The message was seen as concluding that the use of firearms at the DMZ was itself a violation of the agreement, even if they were used to return fire.

At the same time, UNC reserved judgment on whether the North Korean gunfire was intentional, saying the “investigation was unable to definitively determine if the four rounds were fired intentionally or by mistake.”

Its conclusion appeared to differ from that of South Korean military authorities at the time, who argued that the gunfire was “very likely to have been unintentional in view of the North Korean military’s trends and weather conditions at the time.” But in a telephone interview with the Hankyoreh, a UNC source explained, “The UNC’s conclusion was simply that it could not confirm whether [the gunfire] was intentional or accidental because it was unable to investigate the North Korean military.”

“This was not a case of ruling out or denying the South Korean military’s conclusion,” the source insisted.

In response, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense expressed “dismay that the UN Command’s investigation findings were released without an actual investigation of the North Korean military’s gunfire.”

UNC explained that the investigation was led by a multinational special investigation team with the cooperation of the South Korean military. The North Korean military was also asked to provide information in connection with the gunfire but did not submit an official response, the UNC explained. North Korea has consistently declined to answer requests for a response from South Korean military authorities since the gunfire exchange on May 3.

By Noh Ji-won, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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