Context: The UN Command led by the United States, found that North Korea and South Korea were both guilty of violating armistice agreement following a recent incident involving gunfire along the Demilitarised Zone between the two countries. 

What was this shooting about?

  • This shooting on may 3, the first of its kind in approximately two and a half years, was in violation of the armistice agreement which brought a halt to the Korean War in 1953.
  • According to the announcement, South Korea had also warned North Korea through broadcast messages that the firings were a violation of the 2018 inter-Korean military agreement that had come about following a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. 
    • One of the terms of this agreement, called the Pyongyang Joint Declaration of September 2018, said there would be reduced military tensions between the two countries.
  • Prior to this, shootings occurred across the DMZ in December 2017 when a North Korean soldier defected to the other side.
  • Response of two Countries:
  • South Korea had stated that it was trying to investigate the shooting.
  • North Korea did not separately address the issue. 

UN Command find in investigations

  • The investigation said North Korea had violated the armistice of 1953 by firing four rounds, as had South Korea by firing five rounds in return.
  • One of the roles of the UN Command is to ensure the terms of the armistice are being agreed upon by both North Korea and South Korea. 

Korean Armistice Agreement

  • The 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement, was a ceasefire though there was no official declaration of the end of the Korean  war, and the conflict has continued, without fighting between the parties.
  • South Korea, under President Syngman Rhee, did not sign the armistice. 
  • In the absence of an official peace treaty, as is the norm, the two officially remain at war. However, in December 1991, North and South Korea signed a pact where they agreed to refrain from agressions.

Korean War (1950-53)

  • It was a war between North Korea (with the support of China and the Soviet Union) and South Korea (with the support of the United Nations, principally from the United States).
  • The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea.
  • At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States liberated Korea from imperial Japanese colonial control on 15 August 1945. 
  • After the war had ended, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation, the Soviets administered the northern half and the Americans administered the southern half. 
  • With the border set at the 38th parallel in 1948, two sovereign states were established as a result of geopolitical tensions of the Cold War (between the Soviet Union and the United States).
  • Both governments of the two new Korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent.
  • The conflict escalated into warfare when North Korean military (Korean People's Army, KPA) forces—supported by the Soviet Union and China—crossed the border and advanced into South Korea on 25 June 1950.
  • The United Nations Security Council authorized the formation of the United Nations Command and the dispatch of forces to Korea  to repel what was recognized as a North Korean invasion

Source: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/why-un-command-found-north-and-south-korea-in-violation-of-armistice-agreement-at-border-6435634/