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North Korea presence on Hambak Island is violation, Seoul lawmaker says

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea presence on Hambak Island is violation, Seoul lawmaker says
North Korea has deployed troops to a disputed island near Yeonpyeong Island (pictured), but Seoul has said it is not a violation of a past agreement. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 2 (UPI) -- South Korea's main opposition conservatives are calling for a tougher response to the presence of North Korean troops on a disputed island near the western maritime border.

Lawmakers are slamming Seoul's position on the deployment of a North Korean platoon on Hambak Island, following a statement from Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo, who said the North Korean maneuvers are not a violation of an inter-Korea military agreement signed in September 2018, News 1 reported Wednesday.

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Suh Chung-won, a conservative lawmaker with no party affiliation, said North Korea's presence on an island the South also claims is a violation of law.

"Article 13 of the Armistice Agreement states commanders of both sides recognize a group of islands centered on Udo and includes Maldo, Udo and Hambakdo [Island] as [South Korean] territory," Suh said, during a parliamentary audit of the defense ministry. "For this reason, North Korea has not built military facilities there for 70 years."

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Earlier in September the defense ministry told a parliamentary committee North Korea may have deployed a platoon to Hambak Island for monitoring purposes, including tracking the construction of military facilities at the Northern Limit Line, keeping an eye on defecting North Koreans and watching for Chinese fishing vessels.

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Suh said Wednesday the presence of North Korean facilities is an issue.

"We could take military action. The presence of North Korea's military facilities at the southernmost tip of the West is a major problem," Suh said, according to Newsis.

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The lawmaker also said the North was "doing bad things" by planning the military facility on Hambak Island before May 2017.

"We must be poised to take action in order to maintain security as outlined in the Armistice Agreement" of 1953, Suh said.

Earlier on Wednesday North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile, according to analysts.

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