SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The American-led U.N. command on Saturday dismissed as unsubstantiated accusations from North Korea that U.S. troops at a border village tried to provoke its frontline troops with “disgusting acts.”
A North Korean military statement Friday warned U.S. soldiers to stop what it called “hooliganism” at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom or they’ll meet a “dog’s death any time and any place.”
It said U.S. troops pointed their fingers at North Korean soldiers and made strange noises and unspecified “disgusting” facial expressions. It also said that American troops encouraged South Korean soldiers to aim their guns at the North.
A statement from Christopher Bush, a spokesman for the U.N. command, said they looked into the allegations and determined they were unsubstantiated.
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North Korea occasionally accuses South Korean and U.S. troops of trying to provoke its border troops and vice versa. After North Korea’s first nuclear bomb test in 2006, the U.S. accused North Korean troops of spitting across the border’s demarcation line, making throat-slashing hand gestures and flashing their middle fingers.
The latest North Korean accusation came a day after South Korean and U.S. officials said two suspected medium-range missile launches by North Korea ended in failure. In recent weeks, North Korea fired a barrage of missiles and artillery shells into the sea in an apparent response to annual South Korea-U.S. military drills that ended Saturday.
About 28,000 American troops are deployed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice and not a peace treaty.
Panmunjom, located inside the 4-kilometer- (2.5-mile-) wide Demilitarized Zone that bisects the Korean Peninsula, is where the 1953 armistice was signed. It remains one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints, but Panmunjom — jointly overseen by North Korea and the American-led U.N. Command — is also a popular tourist spot drawing visitors on both sides.
Visitors from the southern side are often told by tour guides to be extremely careful about what gestures they make so as not to antagonize the nearby North Korean soldiers.
Follow Hyung-jin Kim on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hyungjin1972