SEOUL, Aug. 23 (UPI) — North Korea has been planting thousands of land mines to prevent border guards from defecting to the South.
According to South Korean officials who spoke to local television network MBC, Pyongyang has been burying the explosives near the truce village of Panmunjom since April.
North Korea also began planting new land mines after South Korea began to resume broadcasts on propaganda loudspeakers near the demilitarized zone.
The United Nations military command has strongly condemned the North Korean measure, a violation of the 1953 armistice agreement.
Pyongyang’s military was seen planting several land mines on the North Korean side of the Bridge of No Return, according to South Korean government sources.
The U.N. Command said that it is aware of the North Korean military activity and that it strongly condemns activities that jeopardize safety within the demilitarized zone.
An unidentified South Korean military official said about 4,000 land mines may have been placed on the North Korean side since April.
Shin Jong-woo, a research fellow at the Korea Defense and Security Forum, said North Korea is stepping up monitoring activities near the DMZ and taking other anti-defection measures to hide internal instability.
North Korean soldiers may be facing food shortages and their daily rations have been declining.
Guards along the China border now receive 200-250 grams of food daily, which is 30 to 40 percent of the U.N. recommended minimum, according to Japanese news service Asia Press.
Due to the inadequacy of the state-rationed diet, soldiers often mix in dried corn into the rice they receive from the Kim Jong Un regime, according to the report.
Some soldiers go “begging” at nearby farms for salt to put in their food, and the food shortage has been aggravated by a state crackdown on bribes, a source of income for impoverished North Korean soldiers.