South Korea Suspends Panmunjom Tours Amid North Korean Military Activities

Seoul - South Korea's unification ministry announced Thursday the suspension of the Panmunjom tour program due to increased safety concerns. The decision comes in response to the presence of armed North Korean soldiers in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The tour program, which had resumed on Nov. 22 after a hiatus since mid-July, was halted again as North Korea began rebuilding guard posts and deploying heavy firearms along the border.

According to Yonhap News Agency, this move effectively scraps the 2018 inter-Korean military tension reduction deal. "As North Korean troops carry pistols in the Joint Security Area of the DMZ while South Korean soldiers remain unarmed, we've decided to suspend the Panmunjom tour," said a ministry official. North Korea's decision to restore military measures, counteracting the 2018 accord, followed Seoul's partial suspension of the deal due to Pyongyang's launch of a military spy satellite. A planned visit to the truce village by Unification Minister Kim Yung-ho with the press on Dec. 5 was also canceled. The United Nations Command oversees activities in the DMZ under the Korean War armistice.

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