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Unification minister visits Panmunjom just days after DMZ gunfire

All News 13:51 May 06, 2020

SEOUL, May 6 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul visited the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom on Wednesday, just days after South and North Korea exchanged gunfire at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two sides.

The unification ministry said Kim's visit was not related to the recent gunfire and was aimed at assessing preparations for the planned resumption of tours to the truce village, which have been suspended since the outbreak of African swine fever last year.

On early Sunday, four bullets from the North hit the South's guard post in the central part of the DMZ in Cherwon, prompting South Korean troops to respond by firing back and issuing broadcast warnings, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

South Korea has lodged a protest over the incident and demanded an explanation from the North, but Pyongyang has yet to respond to the call. The South Korean military earlier said the firings do not appear to have been intentional.

Kim's trip also included a visit to the former site of a guard post in the border town of Paju, which has been demolished in accordance with an inter-Korean military accord signed in September 2018. It is part of a hiking trail run by the government.

"The guard post the minister is visiting is located far away from (where the incident took place) and the visit was planned in advance," ministry spokesperson Yoh Sang-key told a regular press briefing.

The government will soon decide when to resume the tour program following the minister's trip, Yoh said.

South Korea reported two more cases of the new coronavirus Wednesday, marking no local new infections for the third consecutive day amid relaxed social distancing. The nation's total number of infections stood at 10,806, including 255 deaths.

In this file photo, taken Dec. 2, 2019, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul speaks during a discussion hosted by the Kwanhun Club, an association of senior journalists, in Seoul. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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