March 30, 2010 12:53
A spokesman for the North Korean People's Army warned the South Korean military on Monday of grave consequences including loss of lives if it allows journalists into the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1950-53 Korean War.
North Korea was taking issue with a memorandum of understanding South Korea's Defense Ministry signed with 15 media organizations in February to support them in their coverage of the 4 km-wide DMZ.
North Korea is claiming any visit, inspection or observation of the area within the DMZ is "psychological warfare" and the only people allowed into the DMZ are administrative officials and aid workers, according to Clause 9, Article 1 of the armistice. But the agreement also contains a clause that allows the entry of other people into the DMZ with permission from the ceasefire committee.
North Korea has been busy trying to nullify the armistice agreement by withdrawing all members of its ceasefire committee from the border truce village in 1994 and changing it into a military mission, which has no binding legal authority. Until 1994, North Korea had committed 425,271 violations of the armistice, and now it is using the armistice as an excuse to pressure South Korea.
Since last year, the Chosun Ilbo has been reporting on the DMZ after obtaining permission from UN Command, which heads the armistice committee. The aim of the coverage is to leave a record of the border as a lesson for future generations and to observe the pristine ecological conditions of the area that has been free of people for 60 years. But North Korea is calling our company's efforts in collaboration with global documentary channel National Geographic "psychological warfare."
If North Korea's fears stem from purely military reasons, then it should monitor the media coverage of the DMZ to ensure that no violations are committed. Some South Korean media and other groups that are trying to report on the DMZ and to launch tours there should remember that the area is still fraught with dangers.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com