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South Korea may scrap buffer zone pact after North’s drone incursion

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said yesterday he would consider suspending a 2018 agreement that created maritime buffer zones with the North should Pyongyang “violate” Seoul’s territory again.

The deal, struck during a period of high-profile diplomacy at a summit in Pyongyang, aimed to reduce military tensions along the heavily fortified border.

At the time, the two sides agreed to “cease various military exercises aimed at each other along the military demarcation line”, but Pyongyang began repeatedly violating the deal last year.

North Korea fired artillery shots into the agreement’s designated maritime buffer zones multiple times in 2022, and last week sent five drones across the border into South Korean airspace.

The violations have prompted growing calls from ruling-party parliamentarians for the hawkish Yoon administration to scrap the four-year-old deal, inked under then-president Moon Jae-in.