Troops and teams of experts from North and South Korea began to remove mines along their heavily fortified border Monday under tension-reducing agreements the two countries reached last month, the South defense ministry said in a statement.
There has been no immediate confirmation from North Korea that its troops had begun to implement the project endorsed in North Korea’s capital Pyongyang by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un.
According to South’s statement, the two sides agreed to remove all landmines in the so-called Joint Security Area (JSA) within the next 20 days. Work will also be carried out in part of Cheorwon in Gangwon Province, scene of some of the fiercest fighting during the Korean War at the so-called "Arrow Head Hill."
In 2019 troops from both North and South Korea are to search for the bodies of hundreds of soldiers thought to be buried in Cheorwon.
The September agreements also included the removal of guard posts and weapons from the JSA after the de-mining. Troops remaining there would be unarmed.
The JSA is the only area along the 250 kilometer demilitarized zone (DMZ) where troops from both Koreas are face to face. The United Nations Command which overseas the Demilitarized Zone also has troops stationed there.