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North Korea withdraws front-line troops as tensions subside

North Korea shuttered shooting posts reopened last week but Pyongyang remains on alert due to ongoing U.S.-South Korea military exercises.

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korean soldiers marching in Panmunjom in 2009. Pyongyang has withdrawn troops from the front line after an agreement was reach on Tuesday between North and South Korea File Photo by James Mossman/USAF
North Korean soldiers marching in Panmunjom in 2009. Pyongyang has withdrawn troops from the front line after an agreement was reach on Tuesday between North and South Korea File Photo by James Mossman/USAF | License Photo

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- North Korea was withdrawing troops from front lines after removing a "quasi-state of war" declaration, and some North Korean soldiers who remained at their posts were seen napping or taking a more relaxed approach to duties.

North Korea's military was resuming peacetime positions after Tuesday near South Korea's Ganghwa Island, South Korean television network SBS reported. The soldiers near this coastal area were taking a more casual approach to their duties. Some slept while others tended to nearby fields – signs that Pyongyang was no longer anticipating or launching an attack.

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Near South Korea's Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands on the western coast, North Korea had shuttered shooting posts reopened last week, South Korean news network YTN reported.

Shooting posts near the truce village of Panmunjom also were closed, and the AK-47 rifles that were once visible had been replaced with smaller weapons, according to reports.

South Korea also lowered its maximum alert level on Wednesday, as North Korean troops at the front line withdrew and guards once posted to 24-hour shooting positions were relieved of their duties.

North Korea may have removed its declaration of partial war, but Pyongyang's alert level is still high because of the ongoing U.S.-South Korea joint exercises.

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Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy Ryu Je-seung said Seoul and Washington are coordinating to maintain a strong combined defense system after the tensions that were raised last week.

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