Joint Security Area

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Coordinates: 37°57′21″N126°40′36″E / 37.95583°N 126.67667°E / 37.95583; 126.67667

Contents

South Korean soldiers standing guard at the JSA between the blue buildings. View from the south. To the rear, three-story Panmungak Hall, in North Korea. Panmunjeom DMZ.png
South Korean soldiers standing guard at the JSA between the blue buildings. View from the south. To the rear, three-story Panmungak Hall, in North Korea.
North Korean soldiers standing guard at the JSA between the blue buildings. View from the north. To the rear, the ground floor of Freedom House, in South Korea. The brick ledge is the actual physical border mark in the security area DMZ seen from the north, 2005.jpg
North Korean soldiers standing guard at the JSA between the blue buildings. View from the north. To the rear, the ground floor of Freedom House, in South Korea. The brick ledge is the actual physical border mark in the security area
800 meters (12 mile) south of the original village of Panmunjom. It is because of this proximity that the terms JSA and Panmunjom are often used interchangeably. The village encompassed a larger area than the current complex of the JSA, and consisted mostly of farms. It was destroyed during the war, and all that now remains on the site of the village is the building constructed for the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement, now the North Korea Peace Museum. The site is administered by the United Nations Command. [13]

Establishment

Among the provisions of the Korean Armistice Agreement signed July 27, 1953, to bring a cease-fire in the Korean War, was establishment of the Military Armistice Commission (MAC), an agency to supervise implementation of the truce terms. Meetings of MAC representatives from the United Nations Command (UNC) and the Korean People's Army/Chinese People's Volunteers (KPA/CPV) were held at the Joint Security Area, an 800-meter (2600 ft) wide enclave, roughly circular in shape, bisected by the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) separating South and North Korea, and created as a neutral area, where there was free movement of both sides anywhere within the JSA boundaries. [14]

Military Police of both sides provide security for the JSA with guard forces of no more than 35 security personnel on duty at any given time. The administrative facilities for both guard forces are located within the JSA. [15]

Layout

While the boundary has remained the same over the years, the buildings themselves have changed. Some have been removed, including all of the KPA checkpoints on the southern half of the JSA. New buildings have been constructed, whilst some existing buildings have been expanded or simply renovated. The only boundary change of the Joint Security Area was the enforcement of the dividing line within the JSA after the murders of two American officers in 1976. Prior to this, the entire area was neutral, where members of either side possessed the freedom of movement within the JSA.

Since the enforcement of the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) within the JSA, several UNC checkpoint buildings have also been rebuilt and/or renamed as well. Examples of this are what was called Observation Post (OP) No. 5 on the hill overlooking the Bridge of No Return, is now Checkpoint (CP) #3, [16] while what used to be called CP#3 (and sometimes called "The Loneliest Outpost in the World" [17] [18] ) was the UNC checkpoint at the southern end of the Bridge of No Return. After the enforcement of the MDL, the North no longer had a road leading into the JSA, and within three days they built what is now known as the "72-Hour Bridge" or "Bridge of 72 Hours".

Landmarks [14]

North

South

Neutral or Joint

  • T1 through T3

United Nations Command staffing

Two KPA soldiers standing guard inside a JSA conference room, in front of the door leading to the South Korean side of the JSA. View from north to south. DPRK soldier.JPG
Two KPA soldiers standing guard inside a JSA conference room, in front of the door leading to the South Korean side of the JSA. View from north to south.

The United Nations Command Security Battalion—Joint Security Area was constituted on May 5, 1952, as Army Unit 8020, United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission Support Group (Provisional). Originally authorized five officers and ten enlisted soldiers, the unit grew to over 1,400 officers and men supporting almost 32,000 soldiers, civilians, and diplomats involved in negotiating and then enforcing the Armistice Agreement. By the end of February 1954 the scope of work declined and the number of soldiers assigned to the unit declined as well.

For the next 50 years, the unit underwent several organizational and name changes, although the original mission to secure the Joint Security Area remains the same today as it was in 1952. On June 11, 1979, the name was changed from US Army Support Group (Joint Security Area) to United Nations Command Support Group—Joint Security Area, and further changed to United Nations Command Security Force—Joint Security Area on December 23, 1985. On October 15, 1994, UNC Commander directed that the unit be known by its present designation, the United Nations Command Security Battalion—Joint Security Area.

A Republic of Korea soldier of the United Nations Command Security Battalion stands guard inside a JSA conference room, in front of the door leading to the North Korean side of the JSA. View from south to north. InsideTheJointSecurityArea1.jpg
A Republic of Korea soldier of the United Nations Command Security Battalion stands guard inside a JSA conference room, in front of the door leading to the North Korean side of the JSA. View from south to north.

Originally a purely U.S. Army organization, the unit also included ROK soldiers (KATUSAs). In addition, ROK Army officers served as liaison officers. In the mid-1970s the JSA consisted of the JSF company with three platoons of one U.S. and one ROKA officer, and thirty enlisted men, supported by a battalion staff. The three platoons were led by the U.S. officer with the ROK officer as the executive officer, and U.S. Army platoon sergeants. The platoons consisted of three squads, with equal numbers of U.S. and KATUSA soldiers.

Sometime after 1979, another (fourth) platoon was added to the JSF to allow time for training during platoon work rotations. In July 1987 the four platoons of the Joint Security Force (JSF) company were reorganized to mix KATUSA and US soldiers at all levels. At the platoon level, two platoons were led by U.S. Army lieutenants and ROKA platoon sergeants, and two were led by ROKA lieutenants and US Army platoon sergeants. In November 1987 the unit received a ROK Army major as its first deputy commander.

On April 25, 1992, the JSF company became a KATUSA-pure formation. Captain Yin Sung-hwan became the first ROK commander assisted by a U.S. Army lieutenant as his executive officer. The number of U.S. Army personnel assigned to the unit fell below 200 for the first time since 1952. American forces assigned to the JSA assumed mainly administrative and support roles.

On October 31, 2004, a ROK Army battalion assumed sole responsibility for the Joint Security Area. [19] This modified light infantry battalion consisted of a battalion headquarters, a headquarters company, two security companies, and a civil affairs company. The number of U.S. personnel assigned decreased further, reflecting the UNC Commander's desire to minimize the USFK presence near the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The commander of the ROKA JSA Battalion serves as the UNCSB-JSA Deputy Commander. The UNCSB-JSA Commander's principal responsibility now lies in his operational control of selected ROKA formations during both Armistice and wartime periods.

Both sides placed guards between the blue meeting houses, where the demarcation line is marked by blocks of concrete. South Korean guards in this area were armed with pistols and they stood in a modified taekwondo stance with stolid facial expressions, clenched fists and sunglasses, which was meant to intimidate the North Korean guards. The South Korean guards had to be at least 170 cm (5'7") tall [20] [21] and have a black belt in taekwondo or judo.

Since October 25, 2018, guards in the Joint Security area no longer have posts. [22] [23] They are also required to maintain a capacity no larger than 35 people and must be unarmed. [23] [22] Freedom of movement across the border must also be enforced for visitors and tourists at some point as well. [24] [22]

On November 6, 2018, both Koreas and the UNC established new rules which called for, among other things, the transfer of guard duty command to both Koreas for each of their respective sides of the area. [11] [12]

History and major events

Joint Security Area

Overview

During one of the initial negotiations of the armistice, agents of the KPA/CPV side went into the truce tents one night and sawed down the chair legs of the UNC delegation. The next day, when the UNC delegates arrived, they were forced to sit lower than their KPA/CPV counterparts and lost face, so they quickly left the meeting. At a later meeting, the UNC delegation brought a flag into the truce tent and set it up on the meeting table. The KPA/CPV delegation left after losing face, but showed up at the next meeting with a flag that was larger than the UNC flag. At the following meeting, the UNC delegation brought in a slightly larger flag. This kept up until a special meeting was called just to discuss the size of the flags, as they had grown too large to fit within the tents. The size of the flags within the meeting building have stayed about the same since then, with only minor changes. The KPA flag is wider than the UNC flag, but the UNC flag is longer. The KPA flag has thicker fringe around the edges of the flag, but the UNC's trim is longer. The truck at the top of the KPA flagpole is taller than the UNC truck, but the UNC's is wider. The KPA flag has a three tiered base while the UNC flag only has two tiers, but each of the tiers on the UNC base is taller than any of the tiers on the KPA flag. [25] [26] [27]

Being at the center of one of the world's most tense military and political fault lines, the Joint Security Area has been the site of numerous interactions between North and South, including over 750 overt acts of violence. The UNC has documented most of the violent incidents with reports and photographs, which have been reported in the course of MAC meetings. Countless fistfights, shouting matches, exchanges of rude gestures, and other provocations have occurred since 1953. [28] There have also been several prisoner exchanges and other interactions.

1950s

Buildings in the Joint Security Area as they appeared in 1956. View from the south. Joint Security Area 1956.jpg
Buildings in the Joint Security Area as they appeared in 1956. View from the south.

This operation was a test case for prisoner repatriation, one of the four main issues of contention during two years of negotiation. 605 sick, wounded, and/or injured UNC prisoners were exchanged for 6,030 sick or injured Communist prisoners. [29] [30]

Based on the success of the repatriations undertaken earlier, a general exchange of prisoners began in late April. During Operation Big Switch, prisoners were brought to Panmunjom, on the banks of the Sachong River. Each prisoner was then asked if he wished to cross the river and return to his countrymen or remain with his captors. Once the choice was made there was no turning back—hence the name Bridge of No Return. During this time 13,444 UNC prisoners returned to UNC countries, and 89,493 KPA and CPV prisoners returned to their Communist countries. In June 1953, ROK president Syngman Rhee released a further 25,000 KPA soldiers held in ROKA camps (mostly southerners impressed into service for the north) into South Korea in an attempt to wreck the armistice negotiations. [31] [32] [33]

The Armistice Agreement provided that a nonbelligerent nation would provide security forces to hold any prisoner of war who refused repatriation. India provided 6,413 soldiers for this purpose. After landing at the port of Inchon, the UNCMAC Support Group (Provisional) moved all personnel to the Demilitarized Zone by helicopter in a single day without incident.

Approximately 23,000 KPA and CPV soldiers held in UNC prisoner of war camps refused to return to Communist control. Twenty-two UNC soldiers (21 Americans, one Briton) also refused repatriation. Under the provisions of the Armistice, these soldiers were held for a further six months and interviewed by neutral observers to ensure they had not been coerced into refusing repatriation. Most KPA expatriates remained in South Korea, while the overwhelming majority of CPV expatriates traveled to Taiwan to join the Nationalists.

During this operation the UNCMACSG(P) oversaw the repatriation of displaced persons, expellees, and refugees from North Korea to South Korea across the Military Demarcation Line at Panmunjom.

1960s

On August 17, 1969, an unarmed OH-23 observation helicopter strayed over DPRK airspace and was forced to land in North Korea. The three crew were held for 3+12 months during negotiations between Major General A. H. Adam senior negotiator at the UN Command, and North Korean Major General Lee Choon-sun. In early December 1969 the three crew members were released and ushered over the Bridge of No Return.

1970s

A Korean Air Lines aircraft was hijacked by a North Korean agent on December 11, 1969, and forced to divert to Sondǒk Airfield in Wonsan, North Korea. Aside from the hijacker, the plane carried 46 passengers and four crew members. 39 passengers were repatriated through Panmunjom on Valentine's Day, 1970. The remaining passengers and all crew members were held by North Korea and to date have not been permitted to return. See Korean Air Lines YS-11 hijacking. [37] [38] [39]
The monument marking the site of the Axe Murder Incident in the Joint Security Area on the border of North and South Korea. (photo 2012) Axe Murder Site.jpg
The monument marking the site of the Axe Murder Incident in the Joint Security Area on the border of North and South Korea. (photo 2012)

1980s

1990s

In March 1991, the UNC commander appointed a South Korean General as chief representative. As North Korea claims that only signatories to the Armistice Agreement, of which South Korea is not a part, can be representatives, they refuse to attend any more MAC meetings. [48]
In January 1994 two KPA soldiers were swept into the East China Sea. They were rescued by elements of the ROK Navy. Neither soldier wished to defect, so they were returned to North Korean control through Panmunjom. [49]
In December 1994 an unarmed OH-58 Kiowa helicopter from the US Army crossed the MDL while undertaking a low-altitude flight over hilly, wooded terrain in South Korea. [50] KPA air defense forces shot the aircraft down [51] as it was returning to South Korean-controlled territory. Co-pilot David M. Hilemon was killed but pilot Bobby Hall was released 13 days later after signing an apology for "accidentally straying" into North Korean airspace. [52] [53]

2010s

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met at the Joint Security Area on April 27, 2018 InterKorean Summit 1st v15.jpg
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met at the Joint Security Area on April 27, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump and leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un briefly met at the Joint Security Area on June 30, 2019 President Trump Meets with Chairman Kim Jong Un (48162628746).jpg
U.S. President Donald Trump and leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un briefly met at the Joint Security Area on June 30, 2019

Tourism

The Joint Security Area currently has around 100,000 tourists visit each year through several tourism companies [82] [83] and the USO [84] (through the various U.S. military commands in Korea). Before being allowed to enter the DMZ, if visiting from the South, tourists are given a briefing during which they must sign a document which states, in part, "The visit to the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom will entail entry into a hostile area and possibility of injury or death as a direct result of enemy action." [85] [86] [87] During a meeting held between the UN command and military officers from North and South Korea on the South Korean side of Panmunjom on October 16, 2018, [74] [75] it was agreed the Joint Security Area disarmament is complete, civilian and foreign tourists will be allowed to visit the border area from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. without restrictions about what they can wear. [10] It was agreed that at this point, the Military Demarcation Line which runs through the Joint Security Area will be open to local and foreign tourists so they can reenact Kim and Moon's crossing which occurred on April 27, 2018. [7] [88] [72] This withdrawal was complete on October 25, though tourism has been delayed. [22] No date was set for the resumption of Joint Security Area tourism when rules were established for the transfer of guard duty command on November 6, 2018 as well. [11]

Villages within the DMZ:

Related Research Articles

Panmunjom Place in Gyeonggi, South Korea or Place in North Hwanghae, North Korea

Panmunjom, also known as Panmunjeom, now located in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea or Kaesong, North Hwanghae Province, North Korea, was a village just north of the de facto border between North and South Korea, where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War was signed. The building where the armistice was signed still stands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Korean Demilitarized Zone</span> Demilitarized zone running across the Korean Peninsula

The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula near the 38th parallel north. The demilitarized zone (DMZ) is a border barrier that divides the peninsula roughly in half. It was established to serve as a buffer zone between the countries of North Korea and South Korea under the provisions of the Korean Armistice Agreement in 1953, an agreement between North Korea, China, and the United Nations Command.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military Demarcation Line</span> Land border between North and South Korea

The Military Demarcation Line (MDL), sometimes referred to as the Armistice Line, is the land border or demarcation line between North Korea and South Korea. On either side of the line is the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The MDL and DMZ were established by the Armistice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bridge of No Return</span> Bridge

Located in the Joint Security Area (JSA), the so-called "Bridge of No Return" crosses the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) between North Korea and South Korea. It was used for prisoner exchanges at the end of the Korean Armistice in 1953. The name originates from the final ultimatum that was given to prisoners of war brought to the bridge for repatriation: they could either remain in the country of their captivity or cross the bridge to return to their homeland. However, once they chose to cross the bridge, they would never be allowed to return, even if they later changed their minds.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Korean DMZ Conflict</span> Conflict in Korea Demitilarized Zone started in 1966–1969

The Korean DMZ Conflict, also referred to as the Second Korean War by some, was a series of low-level armed clashes between North Korean forces and the forces of South Korea and the United States, largely occurring between 1966 and 1969 at the Korean DMZ.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northern Limit Line</span> Maritime demarcation line between North and South Korea

The Northern Limit Line or North Limit Line (NLL) – 북방한계선 – is a disputed maritime demarcation line in the Yellow (West) Sea between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the north, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) on the south. This line of military control acts as the de facto maritime boundary between North and South Korea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United Nations Command</span> Multinational forces supporting South Korea during and after the Korean War

United Nations Command is the multinational military force established to support the Republic of Korea during and after the Korean War. It was the first international unified command in history, and the first attempt at collective security pursuant to the Charter of the United Nations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Operation Big Switch</span> Korean War repatriation of prisoners

Operation Big Switch was the repatriation of all remaining prisoners of the Korean War. Ceasefire talks had been going on between the North Korean, Chinese and United Nations Command (UNC) forces since 1951, with the main point of contention being the repatriation of all prisoners to their home countries, in accordance with Article 118 of the 1949 Geneva Convention. China and North Korea wanted prisoners to be compulsorily repatriated as outlined by the Geneva Convention but the UNC insisted that prisoners who wished to remain where they were be allowed to do so. After talks dragged on for two years, the Chinese and North Koreans relented on this point, and the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed on 27 July 1953.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Korean axe murder incident</span> 1976 killing of two U.S. Army officers by North Korean soldiers

The Korean axe murder incident was the killing of two US Army officers, Captain Arthur Bonifas and First Lieutenant Mark Barrett, by North Korean soldiers on August 18, 1976, in the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The US Army officers had been part of a work party cutting down a poplar tree in the JSA.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Camp Bonifas</span> United Nations military post in Korea

Camp Bonifas is a United Nations Command military post located 400 m (1,300 ft) south of the southern boundary of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. It is 2,400 m (7,900 ft) south of the Military Demarcation Line, which forms the border between South Korea and North Korea. It was returned to the Republic of Korea in 2006.

The Major Henderson incident occurred on June 30, 1975. A dozen North Korean guards and reporters assaulted US Army Major W. D. Henderson, a United Nations Command (UNC) security officer in the Joint Security Area (JSA), injuring him seriously. Henderson was trampled on by the North Koreans and suffered a fractured larynx before he was rescued by United Nations Command guards.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission</span> Military unit

The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) was established by the Korean Armistice Agreement signed 27 July 1953, declaring an armistice in the Korean War. It is, with the Military Armistice Commission, part of the mechanism regulating the relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military Police (Republic of Korea)</span> South Korean military law enforcement service

The Republic of Korea Military Police, are the uniformed law enforcement agencies of each respective branch of the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. Once operated under a unified Military Police Command between 1953 and 1960, the ROK's MP units are now commanded by the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force HQs separately. ROK Army MPs also function as a border guards at the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Korean Armistice Agreement</span> 1953 document ending the Korean Wars major hostilities

The Korean Armistice Agreement is an armistice that brought about a complete cessation of hostilities of the Korean War. It was signed by United States Army Lieutenant General William Harrison Jr. and General Mark W. Clark representing the United Nations Command (UNC), North Korea leader Kim Il-sung and General Nam Il representing the Korean People's Army (KPA), and Peng Dehuai representing the Chinese People's Volunteer Army (PVA). The armistice was signed on 27 July 1953, and was designed to “ensure a complete cessation of hostilities and of all acts of armed force in Korea until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.”

Events from the year 1968 in South Korea.

Oh Chong-song is a North Korean defector. Oh is one of a few defectors who have defected to South Korea via the Joint Security Area (JSA). Prior to his defection, Oh was an industrial engineer. South Korean investigators concluded Oh "impulsively" defected.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Inter-Korean Peace House</span> Building in the Joint Security Area, Panmunjom, South Korea

The inter-Korean Peace House is a venue for peace talks between North and South Korea. The building is situated in the Joint Security Area on the south side of the Military Demarcation Line bisecting the area. Before the Korean War, the village, named Panmunjom, consisted of householders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Unification Pavilion</span>

The Unification Pavilion is a venue for peace talks between North and South Korea. The building is situated in the Joint Security Area on the North side of the Military Demarcation Line bisecting the area. Before the Korean War, the village, named Panmunjom, consisted of householders.

The September 2018 inter-Korean summit was the third and final inter-Korean summit in the 2018-19 Korean peace process.

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