Report: North Korea Is Building a Wall in the DMZ

Seoul says North Korean troops have stepped up activity in area
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2024 7:16 AM CDT
Report: North Korea Is Building 'Border Wall' in DMZ
A sign indicating land mines is seen while hikers visit the DMZ Peace Trail in the demilitarized zone in Goseong, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

It's not big, it's not beautiful, and Mexico certainly won't be paying for it, but North Korea appears to be building a wall near its southern border. The BBC says high-resolution satellite images from a stretch of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea show that sections of a wall have been built in several places. Land has also been cleared in the DMZ, which could be a violation of the 71-year-old truce between the Koreas. Experts say the activity is "unusual" and the walls, which appear to be up to 10 feet tall, differ from anti-tank barriers the North set up in the 1990s.

The construction appears to be happening amid a surge in North Korean activity in the DMZ, which is heavily mined and mostly wilderness, the AP reports. South Korean authorities say North Korean soldiers have been reinforcing roads, installing anti-tank barriers, and planting yet more mines. Mine explosions have killed and wounded North Korean soldiers, the South says, and warning shots have been fired multiple times, most recently on Thursday, after groups of soldiers briefly strayed across the demarcation line. Overgrown foliage may have obscured signs that mark the line, the AP notes.

The South believes the activity is largely intended to stop defectors crossing from the North. Analysts believe the construction could also be linked to the North's decision to stop even paying lip service to the prospect of reunification. Earlier this year, the North abolished agencies tasked with managing relations with the South. "North Korea doesn't really need more barriers to prevent a strike from the South but by erecting these border barriers, the North is signalling that it doesn't seek reunification," Ramon Pacheco Pardo, head of European and International Studies at Kings College London, tells the BBC. (The North also just signed a new pact with Russia.)

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