SEOUL, November 16 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean military officials are reportedly contemplating a change to the current rules of engagement at the inter-Korean border, following criticism over the response to North Korean troops firing shots at a defecting North Korean soldier.
According to a source close to the military on Wednesday, despite the United Nations Command having the operational command authority over Panmunjom – the Military Armistice Commission Joint Security Area – there is a growing sentiment in the military that the South Korean army’s rules of engagement should be applied in the JSA as it has security responsibilities in the area.
The source added that the South Korean military will consult with the United Nations Command to share responsibilities in the JSA and allow South Korean troops to fire back in case of an attack from North Korean troops.
Currently, any use of military force, even in response to North Korean troops firing shots, requires permission from the UNC according to its rules of engagement.
Talks of new rules of engagement in the JSA began soon after a defecting North Korean soldier was wounded as he crossed the border on Monday, as reports that South Korean troops didn’t fire back at North Korean troops were met with criticism.
President Moon Jae-in also reportedly expressed concern over the lack of response from the South Korean army during a meeting with senior officials, saying that most members of the public would think that warning shots should have been fired in response to shots fired by North Korea troops.
Moon also said during the meeting that a change to the rules of engagement should be considered.
However, an official from the Blue House said on Thursday that the president only addressed the need for appropriate countermeasures in response to North Korean attacks across the inter-Korean border.
“We have no authority to change the rules of engagement, though we may say what we think. It is entirely up to the UNC, and the South Korean government has no plan to tell the UNC what to do,” the official said.
The South Korean military and the United Nations Command are reportedly considering disclosing some of the CCTV video footage of the defector who was wounded crossing the inter-Korean border.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)