Published: Sun, December 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Korean train enters N. Korea for first time in 11 years

Korean train enters N. Korea for first time in 11 years

Reconnecting the railroads was one of the key projects promised during a meeting between North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang in September.

As a gesture towards reconciliation, the two Koreas reconnected the western line in 2007 and limited numbers of freight trains transported materials and goods to and from the Seoul-invested Kaesong industrial zone in the North for about a year. Moon and Kim specifically agreed to hold a tape-cutting ceremony by the end of this year to mark the beginning of an inter-Korean project connecting roads and railways between the two countries.

Yet progress in further steps toward complete denuclearization of North Korea has been a struggle.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un shakes hands with US President Donald Trump at the start of their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

The survey process began with a South Korean train carrying an inspection team into North Korea on Friday.

They ran cargo train services between Dorasan Station and Panmun Station for about a year until 2008, when they came to a halt amid frozen inter-Korean relations.

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At Kaesong, South Korea's locomotive was swapped with North Korea's, and three North Korean cars which Seoul's Unification Ministry did not immediately specify were attached to the six South Korean cars. There was no unusual movement from the North Korean army at the time the soldier crossed, it said.

Before the division of the Korean peninsula in 1948, there were two railway lines linking the North to the South - one in the west and the other in the east. Over 30,000 North Koreans have defected since the Korean War armistice ended hostilities in 1953.

"These are global sanctions put in place by the United Nations Security Council which deny North Korea the capacity to improve their economy", the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said Sunday.

Moon's top press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, was quoted by the South's Yonhap news agency saying that Trump "asked that South Korea and the US closely cooperate so the next summit will be another historical milestone in the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula".

Those events, combined with a recent North Korean threat to renew overt nuclear development should Washington continue opposing sanctions relief, suggested to many analysts that the countries are having problems seeing eye-to-eye, calling into question when a second summit might take place.

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