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Opposition lawmakers boycott defense committee's on-site inspection of Panmunjom

A group of main opposition party lawmakers boycotted an on-site inspection of Panmunjom on Friday in protest against the government's plan to reopen the inter-Korean border village for tourists next month.

The People Power Party members of the National Assembly committee on national defense accused the Moon Jae-in administration of rushing to resume the tour program, although North Korea has yet to come clean on its recent gunshot killing of a South Korean maritime official. They argued that the government, only preoccupied with reaching out to the North, has not even lodged an official protest with it over the tragic incident.

"I feel miserable over the humiliating attitude of the Moon Jae-in government, which is to resume a tour program to Panmunjom next month impatiently, without making a single word of protest to the North (over the shooting case)," Rep. Han Ki-ho, the conservative party's ranking member on the committee, said during a party meeting.

Han said he and party colleagues will instead travel to the Navy's Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, to commemorate soldiers killed in the North's deadly sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in 2010.

The Ministry of Unification earlier announced a plan to restart the Panmunjom tour program in early November after more than a year of suspension caused by African swine fever.

It includes trips to the Joint Security Area (JSA) and some other sites inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bisecting the two Koreas.

The parliamentary defense committee has organized the on-site inspection of Panmunjom on the day as part of the ongoing annual parliamentary audit on government affairs. (Yonhap)