Barbed-wire fences along 284 km to be torn down

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Barbed-wire fences along 284 km to be torn down

South Korea’s military will scrap 284 kilometers (176.5 miles) worth of barbed-wire fences by 2021, opening up nearly 68 percent of the country’s military installations along shorelines and riverbanks to local communities.

The Ministry of National Defense and the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission announced the plan Tuesday in a press release, saying they co-authored a report describing the measures and submitted it to the cabinet.

Some 352.2 billion won ($312.5 million) will be earmarked for the project, the ministry said.

Of the 284 kilometers of barbed wire being pulled down, 114.62 kilometers have already been removed or are in the process of being removed.

The combined length of barbed-wire fencing along South Korean shorelines and riverbanks is 413.3 kilometers, and only 129.3 kilometers will be left once the work is completed, the ministry explained.

Nearly half of the areas in which barbed-wire fencing will be removed will be outfitted with other security equipment, such as CCTV, underwater surveillance and thermal imaging cameras.

Members of the general public are expected to gain greater access to beaches and ports that used to be off-limits, including a 4.55-kilometer stretch of Chunjang Beach in Seocheon County, South Chungcheong; a 1.87-kilometer stretch of Mallipo Beach in Anmyeon Island, South Chungcheong; 3.44 kilometers from Incheon’s Manseok Wharf to the entrance of Nam Port; 1.57 kilometers from Daejin Port in Goseong County, Gangwon to Hwajinpo Beach; and 7.1 kilometers from Jukbyeon, Yeongdeok County, North Gyeongsang, to Bongsan-ri.

The Defense Ministry said it will also tear down 8,299 military establishments on 1.2 million square meters (297 acres) of land by the same 2021 deadline, saying the places were deemed too old or unsafe for use.

Among those buildings are 483 guard posts along shorelines and riverbanks, which a Defense Ministry official said Tuesday the Joint Chiefs of Staff have already approved for demolition.

By the end of this year, the Defense Ministry will determine the amount of privately owned land the military has been using without authorization, and either purchase it or reimburse owners in some other way.

On another front, the Defense Ministry said the North blew up 10 guard posts in the demilitarized zone Tuesday in the latest follow-up to an inter-Korean military pact signed on Sept. 19 during the third summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The North was said to have notified the South of its demolition plan on Sunday and carried out the work at 3 p.m. Tuesday. Ten guard posts were blown up in four minutes, the ministry said.

This came five days after the South Korean military partially tore down a guard post in Cheorwon County, Gangwon, last Thursday using explosive material.

South Korean military officials said they were in the process of demolishing 10 guard posts by the end of this month, as agreed to by both Koreas in the military agreement.

The two countries agreed to “mutually verify” their demolitions next month.

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