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, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid