There is a push actually to demilitarize the demilitarized zone.
During the Oct. 2 to 4 inter-Korean summit, President Roh Moo-hyun will propose the complete withdrawal of armed forces from inside the demilitarized zone that has separated the two Koreas for more than a half century, a high-ranking administration official told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.
“President Roh will propose to Kim Jong-il, the North Korean National Defense Commission chairman, to completely pull out 100 South Korean GPs [guard posts] and 280 North Korean GPs from the DMZ,” the source said, referring to the military posts located inside the 4 kilometer-wide strip of land along the 243-kilometer long border. “Removing the GPs means the withdrawal of soldiers and arms located inside the zone.”
The 1953 Korean War armistice established the demilitarized zone, and only light infantry is supposed to patrol inside the DMZ. Building guard posts and deploying heavy weaponry is in violation of the truce, but the North Korean military constructed guard posts inside the zone a few years after the war and brought in heavy weapons, including machine guns. The South countered by doing the same.
“Roh’s proposal is to demilitarize the area in line with its original purpose and to seek a joint plan to make peaceful use out of it,” the source said. “The South had stipulated the peaceful use of the DMZ in the 1991 basic agreement between the two Koreas for that specific reason.”
The source said the first step would be the withdrawal of military facilities, soldiers and weapons from the DMZ step by step. Next would be building an ecological park inside the DMZ, he said.