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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora