Both Koreas’ militaries return to peacetime mode

August 31, 2015

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Militaries on both sides of the Korean border have relaxed their defense postures to peacetime levels following a landmark deal that defused tensions between the sides, military officials said Sunday.

South and North Korea raised their militaries’ alert levels after tension flared up over a land mine explosion and ensuing artillery exchange earlier this month.

On Tuesday, the two sides struck a breakthrough agreement to end the hostilities and expand cross-border ties.

“The highest alert level issued for front-line units and the ‘Jindotgae-1′ issued at times of heightened local threats by the enemy have all been lifted,” said a South Korean military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Now, our defense posture has returned to peacetime levels.”

The South also normalized the five-level WATCHCON threat alert system, jointly kept with the United States Forces Korea, following the closure of the 12-day joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise on Friday after the state of alert was increased to the second-highest level during the rising tensions.

Another military official said North Korea has lifted its special duty order for front-line units along with the quasi-war state declared by leader Kim Jong-un ahead of the deal.

The communist country also appears to have sent troops that had been deployed to front-line areas during the stand-off back to their original units, the official said.

The North has also pulled back its 76.2-millimeter artillery, which had been deployed near the demilitarized zone a week earlier, and closed off portholes on their border fortifications, which were left open as troops stood ready to fire, according to the official.

However, some of the 20 amphibious landing crafts, which had been sent near the border in the Yellow Sea, remain put possibly for a military amphibious training in the near future, the official also noted, adding the country has also brought its submarines back to their normal positions.