SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in on Friday called for stepped up efforts to establish a conflict-free joint fishing area with North Korea along the western maritime border, known as the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

“The western NLL is a maritime border that our troops have been guarding with their blood,” the president said in a ceremony held at his office Cheong Wa Dae to appoint the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Gen. Park Han-ki.

“Defending (the border) with our soldiers’ blood is a very noble thing, but we cannot continue guarding it with blood. I believe it would be a much more valuable deed if we could defend the border without shedding blood,” he added.

The NLL has long been a source of conflict and even armed clashes between the divided Koreas as the North had long refused to recognize the line drawn by the United Nations command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War as an official border.

In their latest summit held in Pyongyang last month, Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to turn the area near the NLL into a peace zone, partly by retreating their naval and other armed forces to the rear by up to 40 kilometers on both sides.

Moon said the agreement itself marked a huge step forward as it marked the first time for the North to recognize the NLL as a de facto border.

“It has a special meaning in that it made North Korea recognize the NLL, and it marks a great transition in that we may now truly turn the area near the NLL, which has been an area of conflicts, into an area of peace,” he said, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom.

Friday’s ceremony also involved Hwang In-gwon, who was promoted to a general and appointed as Park’s successor as the commander of the Army Second Operations Command.

Source: Yonhap News Agency