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United States Blocks Inter-Korean Railway Project

Above photo: From Within Striking Distance.

Critics charge infringement on sovereignty

The UN Command, headed by the United States, refused to allow a South Korean train to travel to North Korea for a joint North-South inspection of railway conditions for the planned inter-Korean railway.

The two Koreas had planned for a South Korean train to depart from Seoul Station and travel to Sinuiju at the far northern end of the Gyeongui (Seoul-Sinuiju) railway line in North Korea, with South and North Korea conducting a joint inspection on the North Korean stretch of the line between Kaesong and Sinuiju. According to the armistice agreement, however, the UN Command has the authority to grant or refuse approval on anything that passes over the Military Demarcation Line (MDL). The South Korean government reportedly gave notice on Aug. 23 of its plans to bring a train in and out of North Korea, but the UN Command denied the request.

The South Korean government insists the project is not subject to UN or US sanctions against North Korea, and critics charge that Washington is interfering in inter-Korean cooperation efforts to implement the Panmunjom Declaration and infringing on Korea’s sovereignty.

“We have no intention of begging the United States for the peace and prosperity of our nation,” said civil society groups at a press conference. “U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK) wears multiple hats. At times as the UN Command, and other times as the Combined Forces Command, it stands in the way of North-South relations,” said Lee Jang-hui, Standing Representative of Citizens Alliance for Peaceful Unification. “The inter-Korean railway is like the artery of North-South cooperation. If U.S. Forces in Korea were not occupying forces but a true ally, it would not obstruct the project in this way,” said Kim Sam-yeol, Chair of the Association of Bereaved Families of Patriotic Martyrs.

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