10 August, 2015
South Korean officials are accusing the North Korean military of illegally entering the country and planting deadly landmines. The landmines seriously injured two soldiers on August 4. The U.S.-led United Nations Command that monitors the ceasefire between the North and South supports South Korea's finding.
Three landmines exploded last Tuesday on the South Korean side of the border between North and South Korea. Eight South Korean soldiers were monitoring the area. One soldier lost both legs in the explosions. Another soldier lost one leg.
South Korean officials say the North Korean military is responsible for the attack. They are urging the North to apologize for the attack and promise they will answer it.
Major General Ku Hong-mo is with the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. He spoke strongly against what he called the North's "cowardly and despicable" act. Major General Ku said the move violated agreements between South Korea and North Korea.
Investigators support South Korea's claim. They say the kinds of cases and explosives used in the blast suggest the North Korean military made the landmines. They also note that the border area has many landmines, but South Korean troops often monitor the site of the explosions. As a result, they say, these landmines were probably recently planted.
Yang Wook is a North Korea expert with the Korea Defense and Security Forum in Seoul. He says the North Korean military likely just wanted to show their strength. Mr. Yang says he does not believe South Korea will answer the attack in any serious way.
Mr. Yang says, "So from North Korea's point of view, they have nothing to lose even if they fail."
He expects South Korea to answer the landmine attacks by increasing military exercises or sending more anti-government information to the North.
Mr. Yang says, "We can pressure North Korea by conducting massive scale military drills or punish them by resuming psychological combat, which North Korea fears the most."
However, North Korea will likely angrily deny responsibility for the attacks and tensions in the area will rise.
Earlier this year, North Korean officials objected to the U.N. establishing an office in Seoul to investigate human rights violations in the North. North Korea also objects to joint military drills between South Korean and American soldiers that will begin soon.
And, the two countries have not been able to agree on a shared ceremony this week to honor the 70th anniversary of freedom from Japanese rule.
Brian Padden and Youmi Kim wrote this story. Kelly Jean Kelly adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.
Words in This Story
monitor –v. to watch, observe, listen or check; can also be a noun
cowardly – adj. afraid in a way that makes you unable to do what is right or expected; lacking courage
despicable – adj. very bad or unpleasant
psychological combat – adj. things that are done to make an enemy or opponent become less confident or to feel hopeless and afraid