A South Korean train used in inspecting railways in North Korea returned home Tuesday after completing its 18-day mission, the unification ministry said.
South Korean officials took over the train from North Koreans at Panmun Station, just north of the western inter-Korean border.
The train crossed into the South at around 10:25 a.m., according to the ministry.
Its arrival came a day after a group of South Korean officials and experts returned home after a 10-day inspection of the eastern rail line in North Korea.
For 18 days from Nov. 30, the train ran a combined 2,600 kilometers of the North Korean rail lines in the country’s western and eastern regions to check their conditions.
The inspections are part of efforts to “modernize” and connect the two Koreas’ railways over their border, as agreed upon at an April inter-Korean summit.
This marked the first time that a South Korean train had run on the North’s eastern Kumgang-Tumen line since the Korean Peninsula was divided after the 1950-53 Korean War.
The North’s rail system is known to be so old that it requires major repairs or replacement in order to be connected to South Korea’s.
The railway inspections had been delayed for months amid US concerns about possible violations of UN sanctions on North Korea. The project was given a green light recently when the UN Security Council granted a sanctions exemption.
The two Koreas are set to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the road and railway connection project over their border at Panmun Station on Dec. 26. Details of who will attend the event and how it will be organized have yet to be determined. (Yonhap)