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Seoul to continue to apply pressure on North Korea, says South Korean president

The South Korean military has said recent land mine explosions were a violation of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, and that the army would respond "immediately" if Pyongyang opens fire.

By Elizabeth Shim
Seoul to continue to apply pressure on North Korea, says South Korean president
South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Tuesday in Seoul. Hammond condemned the land mine explosion in the DMZ that injured two South Korean soldiers. Photo courtesy of Republic of Korea Blue House

SEOUL, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Seoul plans to continue applying pressure on Pyongyang despite provocations – while offering opportunities for dialogue.

Park's statement follows revelations that North Korea targeted South Korean soldiers in the demilitarized zone with land mines that injured two Aug. 4.

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The South Korean president made her first public response after the land mine incident during a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on Tuesday, Yonhap reported.

"[South Korea] was hoping the momentum gained from the resolution of the Iran nuclear problem would have an effect on the North Korean nuclear issue," Park said in translation.

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"But North Korea continues to reject talks on denuclearization and is fixated on nuclear advancement, and raising concerns."

Hammond said Britain condemns North Korea for the land mine explosions that injured two South Korean soldiers inside the South Korea side of the DMZ, Sky News reported.

The top British diplomat said the blasts "threatened stability in this region."

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"We've condemned this unprovoked attack. And North Koreans must be held to account for the breach of the armistice," he said.

Maj. Gen. Koo Hong-mo of the South Korean military said the explosions were a violation of the 1953 Armistice Agreement, and that the army would respond "immediately" if Pyongyang opens fire on South Korean loudspeakers that have resumed anti-Pyongyang announcements for the first time since 2004.

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The impact of the explosion resulted in serious injuries for two soldiers, 23-year-old Kim Jeong-won and his colleague only identified by his surname Ha. Both soldiers were on routine patrol inside the DMZ at the time of the explosion. Ha lost both legs and Kim lost his right ankle when he stepped on the land mine while attempting to rescue his colleague.

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Yonhap reported Kim is recovering from surgery and has received a visit from South Korean opposition party leader Moon Jae-in. Kim reportedly inquired about the health of his colleague immediately after he regained consciousness. Kim is a past recipient of a military merit award and a member of South Korea's special forces.

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