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North Korean Troops Crossed Into the DMZ For the Third Time This Month

Daniel Kim Views  

The Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced on June 21 that the North Korean military violated the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) again on June 20 but retreated north after the South Korean military’s warning shots. According to the JCS, several North Korean soldiers working in the DMZ on the central front around 11 AM on June 20 violated the MDL. The South Korean military broadcasted a warning and fired warning shots, and the North Korean soldiers immediately retreated north. This is the third violation of the MDL by the North Korean military this month.

The 20th was the day North Korea announced the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement of a quasi-military alliance nature, concluded between Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 19.

The JCS assessed this as a simple violation, considering that the North Korean military immediately retreated north after the South Korean military’s warning shots.

The North Korean military has been conducting various operations, such as mine installation, wilderness creation for improved border capabilities, and tactical road reinforcement, around the DMZ, mobilizing dozens to hundreds of people per place.

Previously, on June 9, 20-30 North Korean soldiers working in the DMZ in the central front crossed within 50m of the MDL and retreated after the South Korean military’s warning shots. On June 18, 20-30 North Korean soldiers working in the DMZ in the central front violated the MDL by about 20m and retreated north after the military’s warning broadcast and warning shots.

Some military diplomacy and security experts pointed out that North Korea’s behavior might be an attempt to confuse the South Korean military’s judgment and disrupt the military readiness posture through psychological warfare of an ambiguous gray zone nature, blurring intentionally and unintentionally.

They argue that it is a tactic to neutralize the Military Demarcation Line to their strategic and operational advantage.

In the chain of tension leading to North Korea’s trash balloon offensive and the South Korean military’s resumption of loudspeaker broadcasts against North Korea, dozens of North Korean troops crossing the MDL could be a trigger for military conflict, so experts pointed out that it is imperial to avoid mistakes more than ever.

Nevertheless, it is hard to rule out the intention that there is a calculation of intentionality hidden behind the perception of coercion as “unintentional,” allowing the working force, not the armed force of the North Korean military, to violate the MDL several times in such a tense situation.

Ban Kil Joo, Head of the Center for International Organization at the Ilmin International Relations Institute of Korea University, told the paper, “There is a trick to prevent the other party from responding strongly by making the judgment between intentional military provocation and unintentional mistake during work ambiguous by violating it with work tools, not weapons.”

Ban said, “North Korea has intentionally violated the NLL with trap ships to neutralize the NLL since the mid-1970s. This can be seen as a measure to forcefully utilize the MDL as they intend by applying a similar provocation formula to the ground.”

He continued, “Russia, before invading Ukraine, mobilized troops and used gray zone tactics, claiming that it was a simple exercise and had nothing to do with the invasion of Ukraine. Then, they transitioned to a full-scale war phase. Similarly, North Korea may be practicing using gray zone tactics in the condition-creating phase from the perspective of a full-scale war exercise, and we cannot rule out this possibility.”

He said, “Even in the case of a full-scale war, gray zone tactics are used during the condition-creating period,” and expressed concern, saying, “It is a high-probability scenario, considering that Kim Jong Un ordered the completion of war preparations to the military authorities.”

Ban suggested, “While emphasizing the intentionality of repeated violations of the Military Demarcation Line by the North Korean military, we need to push forward with a high degree of completion of the process to respond firmly so that the MDL functions not as a gray zone but as a black and white zone.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations Command in Korea is investigating whether North Korea’s trash balloon dispersal and MDL breaches constitute violations of the armistice agreement.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff
Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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