Inter-Korean rail, highway network reconnected for first time in 70 years

December 31, 2018

SEOUL - For the first time in 70 years, roads and railways connecting the two Koreas have been reconnected, laying the foundation for the Northeast Asian Railway Community proposed by South Korea's President, Moon Jae-in. The two Koreas held a ground-breaking ceremony on December 26 at Panmun Station in the North Korean border city of Gaeseong for the connection and modernisation of inter-Korean railways along the western Gyeongui and eastern Donghae rail lines. 

The project was stipulated in the Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace signed on April 27 2018 at the first inter-Korean summit. At the third meeting held in September in Pyeongyang, both sides agreed to hold a ceremony in 2018 to mark the launch of the cross-border rail project. 

On the day of the ceremony, a train carrying a South Korean delegation left Seoul Station at 8:34 a.m. and crossed the Military Demarcation Line, arriving at Panmun Station in roughly an hour and 40 minutes. 

"The railways connecting Seoul and Gaeseong are now wide open. The door that was closed for close to 70 years has been opened, and we've taken a step forward," said Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Kim Hyun-mee.

"The era of division and confrontation must be ended in our time." 

Also attending the ceremony were Unification Minister Cho Myoung-Gyon, North Korean officials including Ri Son Gwon, head of Pyeongyang's delegation for high-level inter-Korean talks, and five family members separated by the Korean War. 

The South Korean Government is to examine the railroads and create a master plan for the project. The Unification Ministry said construction will proceed while Seoul keeps an eye on Pyeongyang's denuclearisation process and international sanctions on the North. www.koreanet.kr (ATI).