Third Tunnel of Aggression

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The Third Tunnel of Aggression (Korean: 제3땅굴) is one of four known tunnels under the border between North Korea and South Korea, extending south of Panmunjom.

Aggression tunnels on the Koreas border


Only 44 km (27 miles) from Seoul, the tunnel was discovered in October 1978 based on information provided by a defector.[1] It is 1.7 km (1.1 miles) long, 2 m (6.6 ft) high and 2 m (6.6 ft) wide.[2] It runs through bedrock at a depth of about 73 m (240 ft) below ground.[3] It is apparently designed for a surprise attack on Seoul from North Korea, and can easily accommodate 30,000 men per hour along with light weaponry.[4] Upon discovery of the third tunnel, the United Nations Command accused North Korea of threatening the 1953 armistice agreement signed at the end of the Korean War.[5] Its description as a "tunnel of aggression" was given by the South, who considered it an act of aggression on the part of the North.

A total of four tunnels have been discovered so far, but there are believed to be up to twenty more.[2] South Korean and U.S. soldiers regularly drill in the Korean Demilitarized Zone to search for them.[6]

Entrance to the visitor access tunnel

Initially, North Korea denied building the tunnel.[1] North Korea then officially declared it part of a coal mine; black "coal" was painted on the walls by retreating soldiers to help confirm this statement.[7] However, signs in the tunnel claim that there is no geological likelihood of coal being in the area. The walls of the tunnel where tourists are taken are observably granite, a stone of igneous origin, whereas coal would be found in stone of sedimentary origin.[8]

Photos are forbidden within the tunnel, which is now well guarded, though it is a busy tourist site, where visitors enter either by walking down a long steep incline that starts in a lobby with a gift shop or via a sled on rails that contains a driver at the front or the back (depending on the direction as there is only one set of rails) and padded seats facing forward and backwards for passengers in up to groups of three. The South Koreans have blocked the actual Military Demarcation Line in the tunnel with three concrete barricades. Tourists can walk as far as the third barricade, and the second barricade is visible through a small window in the third.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Strauss, Steven D. (2002). The complete idiot's guide to world conflicts. Alpha Books. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-02-864366-3. 
  2. ^ a b "Korea Demilitarized Zone Incidents". 
  3. ^ Robinson, Martin (2009). Seoul. Lonely Planet. p. 162. ISBN 978-1-74104-774-5. 
  4. ^ Moore, Malcolm (May 26, 2009). "Inside North Korea's Third Tunnel of Aggression". The Daily Telegraph. 
  5. ^ Zartman, I. William (2001). Preventive negotiation: avoiding conflict escalation. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-8476-9895-0. 
  6. ^ Robinson, Martin; Bartlett, Ray; Whyte, Rob (2007). Korea. Lonely Planet. p. 160. ISBN 978-1-74104-558-1. 
  7. ^ Armstrong, David (June 3, 2007). "SEOUL lives life on the edge / Just 35 miles from the border with North Korea, the city crackles with a newfound sense of style". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  8. ^ Nierenberg, W. A.; Despain, A. M. (1980). "Tunnel Detection" (PDF). Federation of American Scientists. 

Coordinates: 37°54′59″N 126°41′55″E / 37.91639°N 126.69861°E / 37.91639; 126.69861