Hope and indifference in the shadows of Korean DM

The way to rice farmer Choi Ki-joong's paddy fields goes through a military checkpoint where soldiers stand guard against nuclear-armed North Korea only a few kilometres away, a legacy of the war that stopped in 1953.

Declaring a formal end to the Korean War, when hostilities ceased with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, will be on the agenda when US President Donald Trump and the North's leader Kim Jong Un meet next week in Singapore for their unprecedented summit.

Although residents living along the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Korean peninsula have grown indifferent to the propaganda broadcasts and gunfire that punctuate their daily existence, they still hope the diplomatic drive will lead to peace.

Choi lives in the northernmost border village of Samgotri in Yeoncheon county, alongside the DMZ. The 75-year-old is only allowed to access his fields during daylight hours, and at times of high tensions cannot do so at all.

"We just put up with it and live our daily lives," he said. "We can live like this, in peace with no war, or if both sides want it we can hold hands and live together as Koreans and go back and forth."

Yeoncheon county saw heavy fighting during the war, including the 'Battle of Pork Chop Hill' which killed thousands of US and Chinese troops.

US Vice President Mike Pence's father was among the Americans who took part and received a Bronze Star for his service -- which now sits on Pence's desk in his White House office.

The rural farming area, only 60 kilometres away from the capital Seoul, brims with the legacy of a war that never technically ended.

A group of soldiers patrolled Samgotri's empty roads on a weekday afternoon, where a fading wooden sign read: "If you want true peace, be ready for war."

In recent years, the residents have been forced to evacuate twice after the North fired gunshots and artillery rounds to protest the South's propaganda activities along the border.

The holes made by North Korean bullets in 2014 are on display in front of the district office as a glaring reminder, with a quote: "The war has not ended. We are still in a truce."

- 'Used to gunshots' -

But the villagers' sense of fear has diminished.

"We are quite used to gunshots and artillery rounds," one man told AFP, loading bags of cucumbers onto his truck.

His indifference is shared by other South Koreans along the border.

"I actually feel safer" with Seoul's armed forces nearby, said Lee Kyung-ae, who runs a cold noodle restaurant in Myungpari, at the eastern end of the DMZ.

The sound of the South's artillery drills has become so frequent she has "stopped paying attention", Lee said.

Her village, on the way to the North's scenic Mount Kumgang resort, prospered when South Korean tourists flocked across the border until Seoul banned the programme 10 years ago after a Northern soldier shot dead one of the visitors.

The recent peace-making efforts on the peninsula could bring travellers back to her village, Lee said, and to her restaurant, named after the North Korean capital.

A formal declaration to end the conflict could gradually reduce the number of troops stationed along the Korean border.

For Heo Beom-koo, who has sold backpacks, face paint and other military goods to soldiers in Yanggu county for around 40 years, that would mean a major setback in business.

"That's my problem," Heo said. "As a South Korean ... I think an improvement in relations between the US and North Korea is necessary."

If things go really well, the 63-year-old imagines he could even relocate his store to the North, "since the military is vital for defending the Korean peninsula".

But if conflict erupts again he has a different vision for his future.

"If a war breaks out, I will take all these goods to the military and fight the war with the army."

Related Links
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.</span>

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once
credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly
paypal only

Trump dangles White House invite for Kim
Washington (AFP) June 7, 2018
US President Donald Trump insisted Thursday he is "very well-prepared" for a historic and potentially fraught summit with Kim Jong Un in five days, while hinting at the signing of a peace treaty and even a future White House visit by the North Korean dictator. Hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington, Trump tried to quell concerns about his lack of diplomatic or foreign policy experience heading into the high-stakes talks. "I'm very well prepared. I don't think I have to prepare ... read more

Let's block ads! (Why?)

from Military Space News, Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defense https://ift.tt/2sDUj02
via space News
Hope and indifference in the shadows of Korean DM Hope and indifference in the shadows of Korean DM Reviewed by Unknown on 01:14:00 Rating: 5

No comments:

Defense Alert. Powered by Blogger.