See More on Facebook

Diplomacy

Two Koreas kick off joint survey of cross-border waterway

South Korea’s military says joint survey does not clash with international sanctions imposed on North Korea.


Written by

Updated: November 6, 2018

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, access to the waterways along the western border with North Korea have been largely restricted out of concern that cross-border skirmishes could escalate into major conflicts.

While the armistice agreement allows for freedom of navigation at the estuaries of South Korea’s Han River and North Korea’s Imjin River, such activities have been mostly prohibited unless for military purposes.

Now, off-limits sites are about to open up themselves to the public for the first time in 65 years, as the two Koreas on Monday kicked off a joint survey of the waterways to prevent cross-border skirmishes and speed up inter-Korean projects.

“The chance of accidental clash is very high at the estuary of the Han River, as there is no such thing as the Military Demarcation Line,” the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement. “Through the measure, the estuary of the Han River will be transformed into an area of peace.”

Following the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September, the two Koreas’ defense chiefs agreed to conduct the joint survey until the end of the year to ensure freedom of navigation by civilian vessels.

Five vessels participated in the joint research, with the South sending four ships and the North sending one. The ships carried a 20-member joint survey team with 10 people coming from each side, mostly military officials and waterway experts.

The joint survey was scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m., but was delayed until about 3 p.m. Military officials here attributed the delay to the ebbing tide that has made their navigation through the waters difficult.

“The two Koreas shared their equipment to conduct the survey. Even though the waterway is low, we don’t think there will be significant challenges. Our research focuses on the waterway and maritime territory,” a South Korean Navy official said, requesting anonymity due to office rules.

The South Korean government has expressed hopes that the joint survey will help boost tourism projects by allowing free access to the restricted area that has been off-limits to the civilians for 65 years.

The government also expects that the joint use of the cross-border waterway can improve the prospects of the inter-Korean projects, such as in collecting massive aggregates for construction and other commercial uses.

In a document released after the inter-Korean military pact was signed, the Defense Ministry said the two Koreas will jointly collect construction aggregates and distribute the benefits to each other.

“When we pursue the project in the future, we will come up with military measures to ensure that the project will be carried out within the framework of international sanctions,” the ministry said in the document.

There are concerns, however, that if the South Korean government purchases aggregates collected from the northern territory of the estuary, it could clash with international sanctions imposed on North Korea.

Under UN Resolution 2375 issued in September 2017, “forming joint ventures or cooperative entities” with North Korea is prohibited. Additionally, any product manufactured using North Korean labor is banned from US commerce.

Military officials participating in the joint research said what they did would not constitute sanctions violations so far, as it is still in the stage of “joint study” and no decision had been made yet regarding the inter-Korean projects.

“If we come up with some results, there might be issues regarding sanctions. But what we are doing is basic research, so we believe there will be no significant issues,” said a South Korean Navy official, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

In a text message sent to reporters, the Defense Ministry said Monday that the primary purpose of the joint research is largely for preventing military clashes, and relevant organizations will have further discussion on the inter-Korean projects at the cross-border waterways.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Korea Herald
About the Author: The Korea Herald is the nation’s largest English-language daily and the country’s sole member of the Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Diplomacy

Japan, Russia to not discuss sensitive territorial issue at G20

Japan, Russia likely to skip agreement on travel to northern territories at G20. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin are unlikely to agree on a framework to facilitate travel to the northern territories at their bilateral meeting to be held as early as Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, according to Japanese government sources. Since April, the two governments have been studying a system to grant people traveling between the two countries and the northern territories special passport and visa treatment. The system would enable joint economic activities without harming the legal positions of Japan and Russia, which both claim sovereignty over the four islands. Japan had been considering a Russian proposal to allow short-term visa exemptions for travel between Hokkaido and Sakhalin in the Russian Far East, with the aim of reaching an


By The Japan News
June 26, 2019

Diplomacy

Vietnam, EU to sign free trade agreement

The agreement will be signed in Hanoi on June 30. The European Council announced on Tuesday that it has approved the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU – Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), and assigned the EU to sign the deals with Vietnam on June 30 in Hanoi The EVFTA and EVIPA are the most ambitious agreements concluded between the EU and a developing country. Once the EVFTA takes effect, over 99 per cent of tariff on goods from both sides will be lifted. Vietnam will remove 65 per cent of import tariff on goods from the EU. Remaining tariffs will be removed in the next decade. Besides offering significant economic opportunities, the trade agreement ensures that trade, investment and sustainable development go hand in hand, by setting the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection. Meanwhile, the EVITA will h


By Viet Nam News
June 26, 2019

Diplomacy

US should stop forcing nations to take sides

China state media says US should stop pursuing its polarising diplomacy programs. When then US president Barack Obama launched his Pivot to Asia strategy in 2012, trying to drive a wedge between China and its neighbors, the Southeast Asian nations’ response was loud and clear: They did not want to be forced to choose between China and the United States. The US has been a security ally for some ASEAN nations, while China has been their largest trade partner. So maintaining good relations with both makes perfect sense. European nations also resisted US pressure in 2015 by joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Luxembourg will host the AIIB’s first annual meeting outside Asia next month. After labeling China a revisionist power and a strategic competitor in its 2018 national security strategy, the US has intensified its efforts to curtail the rise of China. Instead of l


By China Daily
June 26, 2019

Diplomacy

Pakistan’s Iran conundrum

It’s hard to identify any country that benefits from relentless US efforts to tighten the screws on Iran. On November 21, 1979, Pakistani protesters stormed the United States embassy in Islamabad. They smashed windows and set fire to the building. By the time the Pakistani military had quelled the violence, the embassy had sustained extensive damage and several people — both Americans and Pakistanis — had died. The attack came at a tense moment for US-Pakistan relations. Several months earlier, Washington


By Dawn
June 26, 2019

Diplomacy

US, China must compromise to reach deal: Chinese official

Both sides must come together in good faith for any progress to be made. Both China and the United States must be willing to compromise if they are to reach a deal when presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump meet at the G-20 Summit this week, a Chinese trade official has said. Vice-Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen said at a news briefing yesterday that trade teams from both sides are in talks. He did not elaborate, but stressed that China negotiates on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. “An agreement reached has to be beneficial for both sides, and meeting each other halfway means both sides must be willing to compromise – not just one side giving way,” said Mr Wang, who is part of China’s negotiating team.


By The Straits Times
June 26, 2019

Diplomacy

Pakistan to get $3bn in deposits, direct investments from Qatar

Pakistan has recently received loans from the World Bank and investments from the Saudis. Qatar is making $3 billion dollars worth of new investments in Pakistan, in the form of deposits and direct investments, said Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Monday. The economic partnership between Qatar and Pakistan will reach $9 billion, Qatar News Agency quoted foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani as saying. “The Qatari-Pakistani economic partnership will amount to $9 billion. Qatar affirms


By Dawn
June 25, 2019