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North Korea flooded South without notice, Seoul says

The lack of communication from the North on shared waterways is a break from protocol, according to Seoul.

By
Elizabeth Shim
The North Korean side of the border as seen from Paju, a South Korean border city north of Seoul. North Korea flooded a shared river Monday and again on Tuesday, prompting a response from South Korea's unification ministry. Photo by Yonhap/UPI
The North Korean side of the border as seen from Paju, a South Korean border city north of Seoul. North Korea flooded a shared river Monday and again on Tuesday, prompting a response from South Korea's unification ministry. Photo by Yonhap/UPI

SEOUL, May 18 (UPI) -- North Korea discharged water from a border dam without prior notice, as a forest fire from the North traveled into the South across the demilitarized zone.

"North Korea without agreement has unilaterally discharged water," unification ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said Wednesday. "We express strong regret and ask that such an incident never happen again."

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On Monday, South Korean residents near the Imjin River reported a sudden flood.

According to the city of Paju in Gyeonggi Province, the water was coming from upstream, with inflow reaching 515 tons per second by early Tuesday, local newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported.

The lack of communication from the North on shared waterways is a break from protocol, according to Seoul.

Jeong said in October 2009 the two sides agreed to give prior notification before discharging water from dams connected to the Imjin.

The unification ministry spokesman couldn't confirm whether the unauthorized discharge was planned as an assault on South Korean waterways.

Some residents experienced flooding of their homes, and local fishermen said they had to suspend operations for two days.

Fish nets and traps to catch catfish and eel were washed away, a local fisherman with the surname Yu told Yonhap, and the floods are expected to hurt income.

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In another area of the DMZ, a forest fire traveled from North to South, the South's Forest Service said Wednesday.

Three helicopters were deployed to put out the fire, Yonhap reported.

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