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For the first time in a decade, a train from South Korea crossed the demilitarized area and into North Korea. Aboard the train was a team of rail experts from the South who are working on modernizing the rail network to the North. The hopes of this attempt were to make traveling and trading easier, but also to connect both countries.
The weekslong inspection represents a significant goodwill gesture between both Koreas in past months.
The plan to modernize North Korea’s outdated railways and roads came to be due to a historic meeting between the two countries in April. In the meeting, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un asked for assistance in updating their “embarrassing” railway network.
“Through the railways that will be connected in one, the South and North will prosper together and peace in the Korean Peninsula will become firmer,” South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said during the ceremony at Dorasan Station (www.foxnews.com). “We will maintain close consultation with related nations so that the project to connect the South and North’s railways could proceed with international support.”
It was shortly after the engineers from South Korea boarded the train in Dorasan, north of the capital Seoul, and took off to the North. A banner was also displayed across the train depicting an “Iron Horse” running towards an era of peace and prosperity.
Based on the plans that Cho’s ministry outlined, Korean officials, will start by surveying the 248-mile railroad section between Kaeson and Sinuiji. The railway there is what cuts through the North’s central region as well as the northeastern coast.
After that, they’ll move on to the country’s eastern coast, inspecting a 497-mile railway section. That project is expected to go from December 8 to 17. That railway stretches from the Diamond Mountain all the way to a riverside station near both North Korea and Russia’s border.
During all these surveys, a North Korean train engine will be pulling all six South Korean cars – including passengers cars, sleeping cars, one fuel tanker, and a power-generator car. This will test the engines operability.
The Unification Ministry also said the North will be attaching its own cars to the engine however it was unclear how many. 56 South Korean officials will be involved in the surveys, breaking off into two teams of 28 to inspect the western and eastern sections of the railway.
The reason they’re doing this is so they can hold a groundbreaking ceremony by the end of this year. They want to finish it off by connecting the railways and roads as agreed by their leaders. The only snag to this plan though is the sanctions that the US has placed on the North. The US isn’t going to be swayed unless North Korea takes firmer steps towards removing their missiles and nuclear weapons.
And that might happen as an official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry stated that both the North and South Korean militaries have already removed 20 front-line guard posts and landmines from the border area. They’re also using this time to do their first-ever joint search for the remains of soldiers who were killed in the Korean War from 1950- 1953.