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Flag of the NNSC

Uniform patches worn by NNSC delegates from Sweden and Switzerland

The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) was established by the Korean Armistice Agreement signed July 27, 1953, declaring an armistice in the Korean War. It is, with the Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC), part of the mechanism regulating the relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea).

The mission of the NNSC was to carry out inspections and investigations to ensure implementation of sub-paragraphs 13(c) and 13(d) of the Armistice, which were to prevent reinforcements being brought into Korea, either additional military personnel or new weapons, other than the piece-for-piece replacement of damaged or worn out equipment. Reports were to be made to the Military Armistice Commission.[1]

According to the Armistice, the NNSC shall be composed of four senior officers, two of whom shall be appointed by neutral nations nominated by the United Nations Command (UNC) and two of whom shall be appointed by neutral nations nominated jointly by the Korean People's Army (KPA) and the Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV). The term "neutral nations" was defined as those nations whose combat forces did not participate in the hostilities in Korea. The United Nations Command chose Switzerland and Sweden, while the Korean People's Army and Chinese People's Volunteers chose Czechoslovakia and Poland.

The NNSC was supported by twenty Neutral Nations Inspection Teams, ten permanently located at ports in North and South Korea, and ten mobile teams. The Armistice did not specify the manner of operation of the teams. The Swiss and Swedish teams were of a small size, relying on their hosts to provide personnel support, vehicles, and communication equipment to report back to the Supervisory Commission. The Czech and Polish teams were much larger and fully self-sufficient, including heavy radio trucks, interpreters, cooks and mess equipment.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

1953-1957[edit | edit source]

The first meeting of the NNSC took place on August 1, 1953.[2]

In 1954, there had been hostility to the NNSC inspections by the South Koreans, and doubts by the UNC, Swiss and Swedish about the balanced application of inspections. On July 31, after warnings from the South Korean military that action would take place if the NNSC did not withdraw from South Korea, demonstrators attempted to enter the Inchon NNSC camp, but were stopped by United States guards.[2][3] After discussion within the NNSC, and with the agreement of the Military Armistice Commission, the inspection teams' strengths were reduced by about half.[4]

In March 1955, the South Korean Assembly unanimously passed a resolution that NNSC inspection teams should be expelled from South Korea.[2] In May 1955, the U.S. decided that the NNSC should be told that its operations were seriously disadvantaging the UNC forces, and that the "UNC proposed in future to regard Article 13(d) of Armistice agreement as inoperative".[2] In August 1955, South Korean President Syngman Rhee demanded NNSC members leave South Korea, and 1,200 railway workers and 300 South Korean war veterans tried to storm the Wolmi-do Island NNSC compound, but were held back by several hundred U.S. troops using tear gas. Demonstrations against NNSC inspection teams continued through September and October.[2]

On May 31, 1956, the UNC required that the NNSC fixed inspection teams be withdrawn from South Korean ports, as the U.S. believed North Korea was being rearmed avoiding NNSC inspection. This was opposed by North Korea in the Military Armistice Commission, but was effected on June 9, 1956. Following this, NNSC inspection teams in North Korea were withdrawn in the following days. From this time onward, NNSC activities were limited to recording information offered by both sides, and staffing levels were reduced.[4]

At a meeting of the Military Armistice Commission on June 21, 1957, the U.S. informed the North Korean representatives that the UNC no longer considered itself bound by paragraph 13(d) of the armistice which prevented the introduction of new weapons into Korea, and enforcement of which was the primary mission of the NNSC.[5][6] In January 1958 U.S. nuclear armed Honest John missiles and 280mm atomic cannons were deployed to South Korea,[7] a year later adding nuclear armed Matador cruise missiles with the range to reach China and the Soviet Union.[8][9]

1958-1995[edit | edit source]

Map of the JSA showing NNSC buildings and location of CP# 5, the entrance to the Swedish and Swiss NNSC Camp


Entrance to the NNSC camp in 1976

North Korea viewed the NNSC as existing in name only after the inspection teams were withdrawn.[10] A 1970 report on the NNSC by the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency concluded "Since the NNSC was established only to observe the enforcement of 13(c) and 13(d), it ceased, therefore, to have any function."[4]

The Historian of the NNSC described this situation as:

The Americans and South Koreans, no longer hampered by the presence of the Czechoslovacs and Poles and free to accelerate the modernization of their armament, now showed less haste to do away with a body which had ceased to inconvenience them and might even serve to restrain the propaganda against them by the North Koreans and Chinese. The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission thus remains a facade, maintained only because of apprehension about the void which would occur if it were abolished.[4]

From June 1956 to the year of 1993, the NNSC ceased their controls but solely forwarded the war parties' reports on entering and leaving military persons to the UNCMAC. The strengths of the delegations from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Sweden and Switzerland were reduced gradually: On June 9, 1956 to 14 members each, in 1960 to nine members each, and in 1978 to six members each. Residing inside the Joint Security Area (JSA) are the offices and conference room for the NNSC. North Korea forced out the Czech component early in 1993 and the Polish component early in 1995, both shortly after those countries underwent democratization following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Eastern bloc.[citation needed]

The NNSC members are assisted by administrative personnel from their own countries.[citation needed] Camps for the Swedish and Swiss members and their staffs are located in the southern half of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) adjacent to the JSA. The former Polish and Czech camps which were located nearby on the north Korean side of the Military Demarcation Line, have been taken over by the KPA and are now used for other purposes.

Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, and Poland joining NATO, North Korea believed the NNSC lost its neutrality, and took the view that the NNSC had collapsed.[10][11]

Since 1995 North Korea has not recognized the existence of the NNSC, and no longer interacts with the Swedish and Swiss delegations, though those two delegations continue to offer reports to North Korea which are ignored.[12]

Post-2008 status[edit | edit source]

A Swedish NNSC delegate views a land attack missile on a visit to USS George Washington (CVN 73) in 2012[13]

Since 2008 the main role of the NNSC is to maintain and build relations with both sides, and maintain a channel of communications between them.[citation needed] Five Swiss and five Swedish representatives are stationed in Panmunjeom, South Korea, on duty for the NNSC. Presently, their main task is to show presence at the inner Korean border and thus demonstrate that the ceasefire is still in force. Occasionally Polish delegates attend the meetings at Panmunjom, but through South Korea, as Poland has changed sides politically. The promotion of détente and security in the Joint Security Area (JSA) also falls within the framework of these activities and are the prerequisites for the accomplishment of these tasks.[14]

The Swedish delegation describes its current task as maintaining the validity of the truce mechanism. It describes the NNSC as currently having ongoing contact the UNC, but no contact with North Korea.[15]

The NNSC continues to monitor troop levels in South Korea, and monitor the large U.S. and South Korean annual military exercises. Whenever North Koreans enter South Korea, NNSC members may interview them to determine whether they want to be repatriated or defect to the South. On occasion, the NNSC participates in UNC Military Armistice Commission investigations, such as into South Korea’s actions during naval skirmishs.[12]

The annual cost of the NNSC is about $4 million.[12]

Neutral nation delegations history[edit | edit source]

Swiss NNSC delegation size
Year Staff numbers[16]
1953 96
1956 14
1960 9
1978 6
1994 5

Switzerland[edit | edit source]

On August 1, 1953, the first Swiss NNSC delegation, consisting of 96 members, arrived,[16][17] expanding to about 150 within a few months to assist with monitoring, according to a Stars and Stripes report.[12] After the Inspection Team had been disbanded, the delegation was reduced to 14 members. In subsequent years, the delegation was successively reduced to the current size of five. Currently the head of delegation, chosen from the Ministry of Defence or Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is on assignment for 3 to 5 years. Four reserve military officers assist on 1 to 2 year assignments.[16]

A Swiss Army NNSC delegate is the central character in the fictional South Korean mystery thriller film Joint Security Area.

Czechoslovakia[edit | edit source]

A more than 300-strong Czechoslovak group arrived to Panmunjeom partly by train partly by air on turn of July and August 1953. In the first four years of existence of the NNSC some 500–600 Czechs and Slovaks participated. The story of the first Czechoslovak contingent is covered in a book The Korean Peninsula after the Armistice as Seen by Czechoslovak Delegates to the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission[18] which contains over 250 photographs made by members of the Czechoslovak contingent between 1953 and 1956 and four texts about the early history of the NNSC written by Seungju Hong, Jaroslav Olša,jr., Gabriel Jonsson and Alex Švamberk. Samples of photographs were published elsewhere in Korean and Czech press, e.g. in The Korea Times.[19]

Later on the size of Czechoslovak contingent became significantly smaller, and, after the peaceful split of Czechoslovakia, and after both new republics agreed on the fact that the Czech Republic would take over its membership in the NNSC in April 1993, Czech members were forced to leave their camp in Panmunjeom under the threat from North Korean side. Since then, the Czech Republic has not taken part in NNSC meetings.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of signing of the armistice, the Embassy of the Czech Republic organized a series of events to commemorate Czechoslovak participation in the NNSC.[20]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Korean Armistice Agreement, paragraph 41: "The mission of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission shall be to carry out the functions of supervision, observation, inspection, and investigation, as stipulated in Sub-paragraphs 13(c) and 13(d) and Paragraph 28 hereof, and to report the results of such supervision, observation, inspection, and investigation to the Military Armistice Commission."
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Post-Armistice Korean Service Review (Report). Department of Defence (Australia). December 2005. pp. 5-16, 5-49, 5-52, 5-54, A8-3. OCLC 225567362. http://www.defence.gov.au/medals/Content/+060%20Reviews%20and%20Reports/Korea/Korea.htm. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  3. Park Myung-Lim (Interview) (21 July 2013). "'Consensus, policy consistency integral for reunification'". http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20130721000233. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission in Korea (Report). U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. August 1970. OCLC 50820200. ACDA/WEC/FO 69-65. http://oldsite.nautilus.org/DPRKBriefingBook/armistice/NeutralNationsSpervisoryCommission1970.pdf. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  5. "KOREA: The End of 13D". TIME Magazine. 1 July 1957. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,809583,00.html. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  6. "Statement of U.S. Policy toward Korea". National Security Council (United States Department of State – Office of the Historian). 9 August 1957. NSC 5702/2. http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1955-57v23p2/d240. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  7. "News in Brief: Atomic Weapons to Korea". Universal International Newsreel. 6 February 1958. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVTW36xxaBY#t=02m32s. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  8. Mark Selden, Alvin Y. So (2004). War and state terrorism: the United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific in the long twentieth century. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 77–80. ISBN 978-0-7425-2391-3. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=D0icvm2EQLIC&dq=korean+Armistice+Agreement+13d+nuclear. 
  9. "'Detailed Report' Says US 'Ruptured' Denuclearization Process". Korean Central News Agency. 12 May 2003. http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/dprk/nuke/dprk051203.html. Retrieved 4 April 2012. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the United Nations (12 August 2008). Detailed report by the Panmunjom Mission of the Korean People's Army (Report). United Nations Security Council. S/2008/547. http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/NKorea%20S2008547.pdf. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  11. "Polish Observers Leave North Korea Via Beijing". Associated Press. 9 March 1995. http://www.apnewsarchive.com/1995/Polish-Observers-Leave-North-Korea-Via-Beijing/id-5510aaf2b70c87d82d3de04f3969ee1c. Retrieved 4 May 2013. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Jon Rabiroff (3 February 2010). "Uncollected paperwork a sign of DMZ battle of wills". http://www.stripes.com/news/uncollected-paperwork-a-sign-of-dmz-battle-of-wills-1.98578. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  13. William Pittman (29 August 2012). "George Washington Welcomes Swedish Senior Member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission". U.S. Navy. NNS120829-02. http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=69281. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  14. NNSC Factsheet URL retrieved July 27, 2011
  15. "Korea - NNSC". Swedish Armed Forces. http://www.forsvarsmakten.se/en/Forces-abroad/Korea-/. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 "NNSC in Korea". Swiss Armed Forces. http://www.vtg.admin.ch/internet/vtg/en/home/themen/einsaetze/peace/korea.parsys.0003.downloadList.74446.DownloadFile.tmp/nnsc2013e.pdf. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  17. "Man on a Korean mission". 26 July 2013. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/Man_on_a_Korean_mission.html?cid=36531654. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  18. Published by Seoul Museum of History in 2013, ISBN 978-89-915536-6-8(03660)
  19. "Images shed light on work of Czechoslovakia". 26 July 2013. http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2013/07/113_140012.html. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  20. "SEOUL - Czech activities to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War". Czech Embassy Seoul. http://www.mzv.cz/seoul/en/news_and_activities/seoul_czech_activities_to_commemorate.html. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 

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