South Korea Resumes Border Military Activities, Suspends 2018 Inter-Korean Military Pact

South Korea Resumes Border Military Activities

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Seoul, South Korea, June 4: The South Korean military announced on Tuesday that it would resume all military activities along the demarcation line separating the two Koreas and the North West Islands. This marks the first time in five years that such activities will be reinstated following the suspension of a 2018 inter-Korean military pact, according to Yonhap news agency.

The 2018 agreement had established buffer zones along the border to halt large-scale military drills and banned “hostile” acts, such as loudspeaker broadcasts. It also created no-fly zones near the border to prevent accidental aircraft clashes.

President Yoon Suk Yeol endorsed a motion to fully suspend the Comprehensive Military Agreement in response to North Korea’s recent actions, including launching trash-carrying balloons and jamming GPS signals, as reported by Yonhap news agency. Deputy Defense Minister Cho Chang-rae stated during a press briefing, “This measure is restoring to normality all military activities by our military, which had been restricted by the 2018 pact.” He emphasized that North Korea bears full responsibility for the situation and warned of stern retaliation if further provocations occur, under a robust South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture.

With Tuesday’s suspension, South Korea can now conduct drills to strengthen front-line defenses, including training plans near the Military Demarcation Line and the border islands. The suspension also allows the resumption of loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts towards North Korea. These broadcasts, a key psychological warfare tool, include criticisms of the Kim Jong-un regime’s human rights abuses, news, and K-pop songs, which have previously provoked strong reactions from Pyongyang.

Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson Lee Sung-jun mentioned that various measures could be implemented following the suspension, including the use of both fixed and mobile loudspeakers on the front lines. “Fixed loudspeakers need to be connected to power, and installing them could take hours to a few days,” Lee explained at a regular briefing. “Mobile loudspeaker operations can be conducted right away.”

While government officials have not specified when the measures restricted under the 2018 pact will resume, they have not ruled out preemptive loudspeaker broadcasts depending on the situation. A government source suggested there are no immediate plans to install fixed loudspeakers due to potential military tensions, indicating the likely use of mobile equipment first if broadcasts are resumed.

Despite the increased military activities, a unification ministry official stated that South Korea remains open to dialogue with the North, despite Pyongyang’s continued isolation after cutting inter-Korean communication lines in April last year. “North Korea should not take actions of self-isolation through such provocations but take the path of denuclearization and people’s livelihood,” the official said. “We will continue to make efforts so that North Korea comes to the path of dialogue.”

North Korea announced on Sunday that it would temporarily stop sending trash-carrying balloons across the border but threatened to retaliate with “garbage amounting to 100 times” if Seoul activists send more anti-Pyongyang leaflets. In response, a North Korean defectors’ group said on Monday it might consider halting the scattering of leaflets if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un apologizes for sending trash-carrying balloons to South Korea.

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