South Korea starts removing landmines from the demilitarized zone on Monday, the first step in implementing a military agreement signed by the leaders of the two Koreas in Pyongyang last month.
A military source said on Sunday, "Work will start to remove landmines and explosives from the Joint Security Area and DMZ in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province," where the two Koreas will jointly excavate remains of soldiers who died in the Korean War.
The two Koreas agreed to remove landmines from the area surrounding Panmunjom by Oct. 20 and Cheorwon by Nov. 30.
A consultative body between the two Koreas and the UN Command will be launched to discuss new service rules for the JSA and rules for the guard service of unarmed soldiers from the two sides at close range.
Originally, there was no demarcation marker, and guards from both sides moved freely around the JSA according to the spirit of the armistice.
But after North Korean guards killed two American officers with an axe in Panmunjom in August 1976, a concrete line was raised on the demarcation line and free movement was banned. The leaders of the two Koreas dramatically stepped over the line together when they met in April.
Currently, guards from the two sides are armed with handguns, or even with automatic rifles in the case of North Korean guards. But under the agreement they will now be disarmed and move around freely again.
In Cheorwon, about 200 South Korean soldiers and some 300 American and French soldiers are presumed to be buried. The two Koreas will also build a 12 m-wide road between the two sides in the area by Dec. 31 to facilitate the excavation.