The Korea Herald

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North Korea removes streetlights along cross-border roads with South

By Kim Arin

Published : April 18, 2024 - 15:21

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This file photo, taken March 13 last year, shows the Kaesong industrial park in the North’s border city of Kaesong. (Yonhap) This file photo, taken March 13 last year, shows the Kaesong industrial park in the North’s border city of Kaesong. (Yonhap)

North Korea recently removed streetlights and other facilities along roads connecting to the South, according to South Korean military authorities on Thursday.

The South Korean military said its surveillance caught North Korea taking down streetlights lining the roads leading from the South to the Kaesong industrial park, a now-defunct inter-Korean manufacturing complex launched as a part of Seoul’s past pro-rapprochement policy, and to Kumgangsan, the mountain that is one of the North’s major natural landmarks.

The roads running across the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula were built in 2004, to be used mainly by workers at companies within the Kaesong industrial complex before it was shut down in 2016 as a result of the North’s nuclear and missile tests. The roads were also used by tourists visiting Kumgangsan and for sending aid to North Korea.

The complex remained unused after the Inter-Korean Liaison Office was closed in 2020 due to COVID-19 until last year, when North Korea was found operating South Korea-owned properties there unauthorized, according to the Ministry of Unification in Seoul.

In January, North Korea was seen laying landmines along the same roads to and from the South in a move that was interpreted as a show of Pyongyang’s determination to cut off ties with South Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un characterized the inter-Korean relationship as one that is “hostile” and “belligerent” during a key party meeting at the end of last year.

“We must strictly implement measures step by step to thoroughly sever all links between North and South Korea in the border areas, including a physical removal of roads on our side,” he said at a Supreme People’s Assembly meeting on a Jan. 15.