South Korea to resume border military activity after suspending inter-Korean pact

The suspension will also allow South Korea to resume loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts into the North.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
2024.06.04
Taipei, Taiwan
South Korea to resume border military activity after suspending inter-Korean pact A soldier stands guard at a checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge which leads to the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, June 17, 2020.
Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

South Korea will restore all border military activities for the first time in more than five years, after it suspended a 2018 inter-Korean military pact, the defense ministry said Tuesday.

Seoul suspended the Comprehensive Military Agreement until mutual trust is restored in response to the North’s recent sending of trash-filled balloons to South Korea and its jamming of GPS signals.

“This measure is restoring to normality all military activities by our military, which had been restricted by the 2018 pact,” Cho Chang-rae, deputy defense minister for policy, said in a press briefing.

“All responsibility for causing this situation lies with the North Korean regime and if the North attempts to stage additional provocations, our military will sternly retaliate based on a firm South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture,” he added. 

The agreement, signed on Sept. 19, 2018, was aimed at defusing tension and avoiding war. It was implemented after a meeting between South Korea’s then-president, Moon Jae-in, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The deal included setting up a land buffer zone, where artillery drills and regiment-level field maneuvers were suspended, and maritime buffer zones, where artillery firing and naval drills were banned.

It also designated no-fly zones near the border to prevent accidental aircraft clashes.

The suspension of the pact will allow South Korea to carry out drills to bolster front-line defenses and draw up training plans near land and island borders.

South Korea will also be able to resume loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts into the North.

“Fixed loudspeakers need to be connected to power and installing them could take hours to a few days. Mobile loudspeaker operations can be conducted right away,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson Lee Sung-jun told a regular briefing, without elaborating on when the broadcasts might resume.

The loudspeakers are considered a key psychological warfare tool and involve blaring various messages over the border including criticism of the Kim Jong Un regime’s human rights record, news and K-pop songs, to the fury of North Korea.

North Korea sent waves of trash-filled balloons into the South from Thursday to Sunday in what it said was a tit-for-tat campaign against South Korean activists who sent balloons carrying propaganda material denouncing the North’s regime.

Separately, the North staged GPS jamming attacks in waters near South Korea’s northwestern border islands for the fifth straight day on Sunday.

On Sunday, North Korea said it would temporarily suspend its cross-border balloon campaign, though it also threatened to resume it if anti-Pyongyang leaflets were sent from South Korea.

The group Fighters for a Free North Korea, a Seoul-based organization that floated anti-Pyongyang balloons over the North last month, said on Monday that it would consider stopping its airborne leaflets only if the North apologized for sending its trash-bearing balloons to the South. 

Edited by Mike Firn.

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