CDKW00715 - The 38th Parallel

This report dated 6 April 1954 from the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo discusses an incident with “two Canadian lads caught by the Communists on the wrong side of the Demarcation Line” in March 1954. Within this report, many of the existing problems with the demilitarized zone are illustrated: the remaining mines, the surveyor’s errors in marking the parallel, and the instruction of security forces to observe as much as possible led to remaining UN troops frequently ending up on the north side of the demarcation line. However, the report also indicates just how much the situation has evolved in a short couple of years. What would have been a certain sentence to death or imprisonment was dealt with extremely casually, with the lads in question returned quickly by Communist forces, their photos featured in local papers, and Canadian officers nonplussed by the entire affair. Officials in Ottawa were the only ones who seemed seriously concerned about the incident and asked if there were efforts made to reconsider policing rules or to do another survey of the line, and though both suggestions were taken under consideration, the situation on the front appeared to have changed drastically enough that what might have been an incident of war the previous year was now treated as an understandable mishap.

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"Korean War - Reaction by Canada," RG24-B-1-a, vol. 20811, 7-10-5, part 3, Library and Archives Canada (LAC).