The Korea Herald


DMZ deal has S. Koreans relieved but skeptical

By Ock Hyun-ju

Published : Aug. 25, 2015 - 18:18

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As South Korea reached a landmark deal with North Korea on Tuesday to defuse cross-border tensions after recent military confrontations, South Koreans expressed relief for being pulled back from the brink of war. 

“I was worried about the possible breakout of war, but I am so relieved that the two Koreas struck a deal,” Nam Bo-ra said. 

“It is not that I couldn’t continue on with my life due to the inter-Korean conflicts, but I couldn’t help but think that if a war broke out, it could kill us all,” said the 26-year-old student, who lives in Gimpo, only an hour away from the border. 

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

While most South Koreans remained calm throughout the days of heightened military tension, many also expressed concern as North Korea was seen to take rare military steps, by sharply building up frontline artillery and sending out a majority of its submarines for unidentified operations.

Hundreds of South Korean residents in areas near the border were evacuated while fishing in the West Sea was restricted.

Soon upon the late night news of the negotiation breakthrough, South Koreans heaved a sigh of relief, but were also seen to refrain from being too optimistic.

“I don’t understand why it took 48 hours,” Nam said. “North Korea didn’t make a clear apology or promise to refrain from making provocations again.”
While the government saw the North’s “regret” as a de facto apology, many citizens remained skeptical about the toned-down expression. 

Kang Mi-sook, a 54-year-old office worker, also complimented the authorities’ for their “relatively stern, consistent action against the communist neighbor,” but said the “vicious cycle” of North Korea’s provocations would be far from over. 

“It has been always like this, so I knew that the two Koreas would reach a compromise to avoid the war,” Kang said.

She said the agreement will fall short of stopping North Korea from making provocations again to make its demands from the outside world and its southern neighbor. 

Inter-Korean tensions, however, were quite enough to remind Shim Bum-suk that the peninsula remains at war.

“I thought to myself ‘Where is my military uniform?’ when the news about the North’s attack broke,” the 35-year-old law student said. 

“The tensions seem to be over for now, but the South Korean citizens’ unity against the North would make the communist state think twice about making provocations,” Shim said, referring to the willingness to fight in war that young Korean men showed at the height of the military standoff. 

By Ock Hyun-ju (