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(LEAD) Ministry to gradually remove 'unnecessary' coastal, riverside barbed wire fences

All Headlines 15:18 August 16, 2018

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, 4th para)

SEOUL, Aug. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry plans to gradually remove more than half of all coastal and riverside barbed wire fences across the country to help ease residents' inconveniences, officials said Thursday.

The move, which is part of the Defense Reform 2.0 initiative aimed at creating a smaller yet stronger military, came amid Seoul's push for inter-Korean cooperation and rapprochement.

The ministry plans to inspect all fences across the nation, which measure about 300 kilometers in total, to determine which can be eliminated in a way that does not hurt the country's coastal defense.

"At this point in time, we think that some 57 percent of the fences can possibly be removed," a ministry official said, declining to be named. "We will take action this year as to the sections that the military can eliminate on its own, while we plan to take care of other fences in stages."

Residents near the military fences have been calling for their removal as they restrict access to scenic coastal areas and prevent them from developing tourism programs near them.

This file photo shows the defense ministry in Seoul. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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