SEOUL — North Korean media, in a continuation of anti-U.S. rhetoric that has increased in recent weeks, is claiming moving United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission members to Panmunjom is intended to “violate the sovereignty of the Korean nation and hamstring … the cause of Korea’s unification.”
The claims were carried Monday by the North’s official Korea Central News Agency, famous for its sometimes-outlandish rants against U.S. policy on the Korean Peninsula.
Earlier this month, U.N. Command officials announced several Armistice Commission senior members had moved from outposts in Seoul to the Demilitarized Zone. U.N. Command officials said the move was made to better facilitate for trade and negotiations along the world’s most heavily fortified border.
On Nov. 1, the South Korean military assumed guardianship of the Joint Security Area, with the number of U.S. troops there reduced.
“But,” the KCNA report claimed, “the reality proves that this was nothing but a charade to cover up its true intention to invade the north and mislead the public opinion.”
The report went on to claim the U.S. intention was to hinder cross-border trade.
“This is little short of a formal declaration of its decision to come out itself to totally block the north-south cooperation,” it read.
U.N. Command officials have hosted media days at the DMZ in recent days to show the opposite case. The Western trade corridor, opened last summer, has already been used to ship 400,000 metric tons of rice across the border, officials said. In each of the last three months, an average of 100 border crossings carrying 1,500 people have been completed.
Separately Monday, UNC officials announced a change of command for a new UNCMAC senior member and deputy chief of the U.S.-South Korean Combined Forces Command.
South Korean Maj. Gen. Cho Young-rae will assume those positions Tuesday from Maj. Gen. Park Hung-hwan, who is retiring, officials said.