North and South Korea agree to ease tension

Kim Jong Un, Ri Sol Ju and others at Pyongyang International Airport Photo: KCNA
N. Korea has admitted it “regrets” S. Korean soldiers’ injuries in landmine blasts that fueled the border conflict, as S. Korea has promised to halt its broadcasts into the north, Yonhap reported. The countries have also agreed to promote reunions of separated families.

North Korea has also reportedly pledged to end a “semi-state of war,” while South Korea will stop its border broadcasts at noon Tuesday if no abnormal situations occur in the near future.

Koreas have also reportedly agreed to hold new talks in Seoul or Pyongyang as soon as possible. They are also going to hold Red Cross talks in early September dedicated to the issue of reuniting families that were separated by the conflict that occurred over half a century ago.

On Saturday, the two Koreas’ envoys began talks on the border crisis following tensions that saw an exchange of fire, a land mine explosion in the demilitarized border zone and S. Korea’s “propaganda broadcasts.”

The negotiations were held in the border village of Panmunjom, the place where the 1950-53 Korean War ceasefire agreement was signed.

The second round of the talks was marred by South Korean accusations that the North had tried to influence the peace process by military means. It had reportedly doubled its artillery units at the border, as well as deployed about 50 submarines and around 20 amphibious landing craft with special forces some 60 kilometers north of the Yellow Sea boundary.

The conflict was fueled two weeks ago by a landmine explosion in the demilitarized zone that left two South Korean soldiers injured. Seoul put the blame on North Korea and demanded an apology, resuming the anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts.

In response, Pyongyang shelled the loudspeakers, and after an exchange of fire, the North threatened the South with “imminent” military action.