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N. Korea speeds up landmine and fortification work on inter-Korean border

The North Korean authorities have sent more military personnel to the inter-Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) to speed up the ongoing work of burying landmines and building fortifications, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Daily NK source in the North Korean military said Wednesday that although work to bury landmines and build fortifications in the DMZ was initially carried out by front-line corps stationed in the areas concerned, many personnel of the military’s Seventh and Eighth General Bureaus – specialized engineering units – have been dispatched since authorities issued an order in mid-June to “speed up the work.”

The Seventh and Eighth General Bureaus oversaw the construction of barriers and high-voltage power lines in the no-man’s land along the China-North Korea border, the site of frequent defections and rampant smuggling, from 2021 until recently.

The North Korean government’s deployment in the DMZ of specialized engineering units with experience in building barriers along the China-North Korea border suggests that it wants to complete the ongoing work in the inter-Korean buffer zone ahead of schedule.

As a result, North Korean troops in the DMZ violated the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) several times in their haste to complete the work, despite an order to the frontline corps to raise their alert status by declaring a “special patrol period” for the entire military ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to North Korea on June 18.

North Korean troops violated the MDL while working in the DMZ on June 9 and June 20. They returned to their side of the line after receiving warning broadcasts and warning shots from South Korean troops.

Work appears focused on preventing defections among frontline personnel

The simultaneous laying of landmines, clearing of vegetation, and construction of fortifications in and around the DMZ by the North Korean authorities appears to be aimed primarily at preventing defections by personnel of North Korea’s frontline military police units tasked with patrolling the MDL.

North Korea ordered the acceleration of work in the DMZ after the South Korean government ordered the resumption of anti-Pyongyang loudspeaker broadcasts for the first time in six years on June 6 in response to North Korea’s launch of garbage-laden balloons into the South.

“Young soldiers like the softer speaking style of the South,” the source said. “Especially since the informative parts of the broadcasts about the weather or market prices are usually in line with reality, many soldiers really believe the South after listening to them and say that the South is ‘quite amazing.’”

“It seems that construction in the frontline areas will be completed as soon as possible, since an order has been issued,” the source said. “The authorities don’t worry much about accidents such as mine explosions [due to the rushed work].”

South Korean military authorities said on June 18 that several North Korean soldiers working in the DMZ had been injured or killed by landmine explosions. In a press briefing, an official from the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean military was rushing its work despite suffering several casualties from mine explosions as troops buried mines and cleared vegetation along the front line.

Some even claim that the order to speed up the North Korean army’s work in the DMZ came from the ruling party’s Propaganda and Agitation Department.

A Daily NK source in Pyongyang said the Propaganda and Agitation Department issued the order because it feared a backlash if South Korea’s retaliatory loudspeaker broadcasts led to defections by frontline troops or internal unrest, since the trash balloon blitz was its idea.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

July 01, 2024 at 02:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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