KOREAN president, Mr Moon Jae-in, has attended a ground breaking ceremony for the 110.9km northern section of the Donghae Line between Jejin Station in Goseong and the east coastal city of Gangneung.

The line will connect Goseong, which is currently only connected to the North Korean rail network, with the rest of the South Korean network.

Moon and North Korean president, Mr Kim Jong-un, agreed to construct the railway in the Panmunjeom Declaration of 2018, but the project was put on hold in 2019 during denuclearisation talks between North Korea and the United States. Progress resumed a year later after the South Korean government designated construction as an inter-Korean cooperation project.

The project is expected to cost around Won 2.74 trillion ($US 2.31bn) and could be completed as early as 2027.

The section will complete the line along the entirety of South Korea’s east coast, potentially providing a connection from the major cities of Busan, Ulsan and Pohang with China, Russia and the rest of Europe.

The ground-breaking was held the same day North Korea fired an apparent ballistic missile, but Moon told the ceremony the line was “a stepping stone for peace and regional balance.”

“This morning, North Korea test-fired an unidentified short-range projectile,” Moon said. “There are concerns that this could create tension and deepen the stalemate in inter-Korean relations. When the two Koreas work together and trust is built, peace will come to our side one day.”

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