Clearing of mines for road, railway across Korean DMZ completed
SEOUL — After detonating hundreds of mines over the past eight months, South Korean army soldiers have completed clearing a path for a new roadway and railway across the Demilitarized Zone, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry official.
The last section up to the North Korean border in the transportation corridor was completed Saturday, said a ministry official who declined to be identified.
The area — much of which is low-lying — must be filled with dirt for the railway and highway, the official said.
North Korea also appears to have completed mine clearing and some leveling, the official said.
Only one company of soldiers will remain on the project, called the Kyongui Line, the official said.
Rail work will be done by the Korean National Railroad and road work by the Seoul Regional Construction Management Office, the official said.
The road and tracks eventually are to run from Seoul to the North Korean city of Shinuiju on the border with China.
Work also has started on a road and railway in the eastern DMZ linking North and South Korea. Mine clearing and ground leveling on that project should be completed by August, the official said.
The project was among results of a June 2000 summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and then-South Korean president Kim Dae-jung.
It’s purpose is to link the countries for trade.
Completion originally was set for September 2001. Work on it continues despite North Korea’s recent admission that secretly it’s been trying to develop nuclear weapons, and its complaints to the U.S.-led U.N. Command — which has jurisdiction over the DMZ’s southern half — about rules of contact with South Korea.
The U.N. Command allowed North and South Korea to work together over the construction details.
The two sides have a hot line and fax machine to communicate with each other; the official said the South usually calls twice a day to tell the North of the day’s construction work.