Koreas ready for joint guard duty as DMZ truce village gets new look
SEOUL, South Korea — The two Koreas and the U.S.-led United Nations Command agreed Tuesday to draft rules for joint guard duty and unveiled new posts as they prepare to reopen the truce village of Panmunjom to the public.
Military officials from the three sides held a third round of talks in Panmunjom aimed at disarming the jointly patrolled area, which has been the only spot on the heavily fortified border where the adversaries come face to face.
North and South Korea already have removed guard posts and weapons following a mine-clearance operation.
The three sides “agreed to establish rules for joint guard duty for implementing order in the opposite parties’ areas … and to finalize them by exchanging documents as soon as possible,” according to a press release from South Korea’s Defense Ministry.
It also released photos of new guard posts on each side and said the officials discussed ways to readjust their respective surveillance equipment.
The three sides also agreed to implement measures to ensure “the free comings and goings of tourists” when the steps are completed, the ministry said.
But it gave no date for resuming popular tours of the area, which were suspended late last month while authorities reconfigure the security arrangements in accordance with a bilateral military pact.
The military agreement, which was reached during a summit between the leaders of the two countries in September, calls for civilians to be allowed into the area with “freedom of movement” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The tours have been tightly controlled. Visitors were previously limited to specific areas and only allowed to cross the so-called Military Demarcation Line while inside a blue building that was the site of the signing of the 1953 armistice.
The armistice ended the three-year Korean War after the warring parties failed to reach a peace treaty.