Defense Minister Reveals North Korea’s Repeated Violations of 2018 Military Agreement Near Maritime Zone

SEOUL, South Korea - Defense Minister Shin Won-sik stated on Friday that North Korea has violated the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement near the western maritime buffer zone on numerous occasions, urging for the suspension of the accord to improve military readiness.

According to a new release by Yonhap News Agency, Shin made these remarks during a parliamentary audit session, emphasizing that the scope of North Korea's violations near the northwestern islands is "much more serious than was previously known." The Comprehensive Military Agreement, initiated under former President Moon Jae-in, outlines the establishment of maritime buffer zones where artillery firing and naval drills are prohibited to prevent conflicts in the sensitive area.

Shin provided details, stating that North Korea has fired artillery shells about 110 times and left gun barrels and portholes open 3,400 times since the agreement's signing. The total estimated number of violations over the past five years is "close to 3,600." Shin added that North Korea does not seem to recognize that leaving artillery portholes open constitutes a violation of the agreement.

The Defense Minister also disclosed that the state audit agency is currently reviewing the inter-Korean agreement, although he did not provide further details. The Defense White Paper from Seoul outlines 17 major cases of agreement violations up to the end of 2022, 15 of which occurred last year. The violations include actions such as opening the gun ports of coastal artillery and leaving portholes open.

The revelations come after incidents in late 2022, where North Korea fired artillery into maritime buffer zones near the inter-Korean border, launched ballistic missiles into the East Sea, and sent five drones across the Military Demarcation Line separating the two Koreas, raising questions about the agreement's efficacy.

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