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Soldiers clear land mines for inter-Korean railroad

The Straits Times, 6 August 2000

SEOUL -- South Korean soldiers will enter a heavily-fortified buffer zone with communist North Korea to remove land mines before reconnecting a railway across the border, officials said yesterday.

Both Koreas agreed last week to reconnect the railway that links Seoul to Pyongyang, then continues to Shinuiju, a major city on the North's border with China.

No train has run on the line across the border since the peninsula's 1945 division into the communist North and the pro-Western South.

About 1,000 soldiers will work inside the 4-km-wide Demilitarised Zone, or DMZ, separating the two Koreas, to clear the mines before workers rebuild the railway, said Defence Ministry officials.

The minesweeping operation may start as early as the middle of next month, they said.

North Korea also was expected to mobilise soldiers to help rebuild 8 km of the railway on its side.

The Koreas plan to start rebuilding a 20-km section across the DMZ and finish the work in a year. --AP