News / Asia

    Tense Standoff Continues for 60th Year in Korean DMZ

    Tense Standoff Continues for 60th Year in Korean DMZi
    X
    April 18, 2013 6:39 PM
    The tense situation on the Korean peninsula may be the world’s most urgent security challenge. However, unlike threats from Iran or Syria’s civil war, the Korean situation has been unresolved for more than 60 years. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman has details from the conflict's most recognized flashpoint: Panmunjom in the Korean DMZ (demilitarized zone).
    The tense situation on the Korean peninsula may be the world’s most urgent security challenge. However, unlike threats from Iran or Syria’s civil war, the Korean situation has been unresolved for more than 60 years. The conflict's most recognized flashpoint is Panmunjom in the Korean DMZ (demilitarized zone).

    The division of North and South Korea has spanned seven decades. Neither side recognizes the other diplomatically and both claim the entire peninsula.

    The peninsula is divided along the 38th parallel. And, it is in the United Nations Military Armistice Commission's conference room T-2, where attempts have been made over the years to resolve the lingering differences.

    Herman: "So when we are crossing this table here, we are actually crossing into North Korea?"

    U.S. soldier: “Yes, you'll be crossing into North Korea....The microphones on this table ...are recording and monitored 24 hours a day. The microphones also represent the military demarcation line within the building. So you sir and a few of us standing on this side of the table are now standing inside North Korea at this time;  while everybody else on that side of the building still remains in the Republic of Korea.”

    Herman: “So, technically, how are we allowed to be inside North Korea right now? What constitutes that?”

    U.S. soldier: “We are allowed to be here because this is a building that's governed by the United Nations command.”

    General officers of the United States-led U.N. Command and the North Korean army have not met in the room since March of 2009.

    In recent weeks, North Korea, has threatened to renew war and to launch a preemptive nuclear attack on the United States.

    On March 5 of this year, North Korea declared it was abrogating the ceasefire that it had signed, along with China and the U.S.-led U.N. command 60 years ago. It made a similar pronouncement in 2009.

    “Just one party cannot abrogate the armistice treaty," said Shin Chang-hoon, an international law and conflict resolution specialist at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. "There must a consensus. There must be consent from other parties to the armistice treaty. So the North Korean's argument of the nullification of armistice treaty doesn't have any grounds.”

    Exactly 1,000 meters from here, due North, is where on July 27, 1953, the armistice was signed, bringing to an end hostilities in the Korean War. But, no peace treaty has been signed.

    Shin says he does not see any progress towards a peace treaty until the current hostile rhetoric eases.

    “There must be a certain cooling-off period between both Koreas," he said. "Then, as [South Korean] President Park Geun-hye proposed a certain trust-building process, within this framework of a trust-building process, I think there may be certain negotiations on the peace treaty.”  

    Until there is a peace treaty or Korean unification as a result of war or the collapse of the North, this scene will continue to play out every day: soldiers from two of the world's largest armies standing at alert in a tense standoff.

    • A North Korean soldier peering into South Korea in the Joint Security Area, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • Three South Korean soldiers looking into North Korea, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • A South Korea soldiers straddles his country and North Korea inside the T2 conference room, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • North Korea's Panmungak Building in the Joint Security Area, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • U.S. Army Private First Class Brian Dors of of the United Nations Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • A roadblock in South Korea at Paju where unauthorized traffic is prohibited from heading into the DMZ, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • Two South Korean soldiers outside the T1 building which straddles South and North Korea, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • A hilltop North Korean observation post in the DMZ, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • A monument in the DMZ marking the signing of the Armistice 1,000 meters to the north, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • Bridge of No Return across the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) in the DMZ where prisoners were exchanged at the end of the Korean War, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)
    • Command Post 2 -- known as the loneliest observation post in the world, Korean DMZ, April 17, 2013. (VOA/S. Herman)

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.