DMZ Landmines Kill North Korean Troops Despite South Korean Warning Shots

Koreas Tensions The DMZ
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File

Landmines reportedly killed North Korean troops working near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Tuesday despite South Korean troops firing warning shots at North Korean intruders for the second time in June.

South Korean military officials reported “multiple explosions” that “maimed or killed” North Koreans who were “clearing land and carrying out mine-related operations” in or near the DMZ. The statement did not provide further details about the explosions or casualties, although it said smoke from the explosions could be seen on closed-circuit TV (CCTV) cameras.

South Korea warned in April that North Korea had been planting landmines on all of the roads leading through the DMZ since relations between the two Koreas grew more tense in 2024.

The mines appeared to be one of several angry symbolic gestures Pyongyang made to indicate that peaceful “reunification” was no longer the goal of the regime. Dictator Kim Jong-un, in January, ordered his forces to block all cross-border passages to an “irretrievable level.”

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said on Tuesday that 20 to 30 North Korean troops briefly crossed into South Korea’s side of the DMZ on Tuesday morning, the second border violation in less than two weeks.

The JCS said South Korean forces “conducted warning broadcasts and fired warning shots, prompting the North Korean soldiers to return to their side of the border.”

As with a similar brief incursion on June 9, the JCS was willing to characterize the border violation as an “accident.” In both cases, the North Korean squads appeared to be carrying tools and raw materials for constructing walls, guard posts, and tank barricades.

“These activities appear to be measures to strengthen internal control of the North Korean military and residents and fend off their attempts to cross the border,” the JCS said.

“They are burying landmines mainly in areas where people have crossed the border in the past. The ‘barren land’ is being created to facilitate surveillance,” the statement said.

The landmine explosions occurred just hours before Russian strongman Vladimir Putin arrived in Pyongyang for his first visit to North Korea in 24 years. In remarks before his departure, Putin said he would thank North Korea for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and congratulate its rulers for successfully evading Western sanctions.


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