North Korea has destroyed ten of its front-line guard posts as part of an agreement to ease tensions along its heavily secured border with South Korea, Seoul’s Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday.
The announcement comes after North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in agreed at a recent leaders’ summit in Pyongyang to eventually dismantle all guard posts along the Korean border as part of a range of steps to improve relations.
According to Seoul’s Defense Ministry, North Korean soldiers used hammers, dynamite, and excavators to dismantle various guard posts, having informed South Korea of their plans to do so. The ministry also published photos of some of the demolitions, most of which showed the total destruction of whatever structures were there.
These steps form part of some pacts signed in September, which include a plan to dismantle parts of the border and also end the Korean War by the end of the year. The deal requires both sides to inspect each other’s work to determine whether their agreement has been met.
Following their September meeting, the two sides have also taken steps to disarm their shared border village of Panmunjom, halting all live-fire drills along the border, as well as removing mines at a front-line area in an attempt to begin searching for remains of those killed in the Korean War.
Currently, the 248-kilometer (155-mile) -long, 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) -wide border remains one of the world’s most dangerous and heavily armed areas, with an estimated 2 million unmarked landmines dating back to the days of the Korean War.
Relations between the two countries have improved over the past year since Kim Jong-un initiated a process of rapprochement with the aim of developing relations and reaching an agreement on the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Despite the recent easing of tensions, the Korean War technically remains ongoing since its onset in 1950, with the two sides yet to sign a formal peace treaty since their 1953 armistice agreement. The North Korean regime has still shown little sign of downgrading their nuclear capabilities, having just last week announced a ‘Newly Developed Tactical Weapon’ that will “increase the defense capability of the country and the weapon system.”