• Short Summary

    With fears in South Korea of aggression by the North, attention has focused on the Demilitarised Zone separating the two countries.

  • Description

    With fears in South Korea of aggression by the North, attention has focused on the Demilitarised Zone separating the two countries.

    There are fears in the South's capital, Seoul, that Communist successes in Indochina might prompt a new offensive by North Korea.

    The Demilitarised Zone is a two-and-a-half mile-wide "no man's land" running from the eastern to the western coast above the 38th parallel. Seoul is only 35 miles (60 kms) away and the Northern capital, Pyongyang, 125 miles (200 kms). Established in 1953 after the end of the Korean War, the nucleus of the zone is a "truce" village staffed by American GIs and North Korean soldiers. In addition there is an assortment of negotiators including Swiss and Swedish peace-makers representing the south and Czech and polish representatives of the North.

    Called the panmunjom Joint Security Area, it is the scene of a series of meetings between North and South. It serves as a safety valve for the Korean peninsula.

    But the recent discovery of a large tunnel blasted through solid granite beneath the Demilitarised Zone running from North to South has been cited as evidence of aggressive intentions on the part of North Korea.

    This section is guarded by the South's elite troops, the tough Republic of Korea Second Marine Brigade or Blue Dragon Brigade. These men have a secure place in the South and also won admiration from United States forces in Vietnam when six thousand of the marines fought in the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1972.

    The Brigade is responsible for the area and is equipped with heavy weapons. Its job is to prevent North Korean infiltration across the River Han. Using airboats and helicopters, the Marines patrol the river and its subsidiaries. The Brigade's Commanding Officer, Brigadier-General Kim Jung Ho, says he can impose martial law and call 16,000 citizens to arms in the event of an attack.

    The United States has warned the Communist powers that it will intervene if North Korea invades the south. There are still nearly 40,000 U.S. troops in South Korea. But many of the southerners greeted the U.S. warning to the North with scepticism. Many believe that since the fall of Indochina they can not depend on American intervention in future.

    North Korea later accused the U.S. of threatening to use nuclear weapons to defend the South and denied that an invasion was imminent.

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    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
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    Available on request
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