Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Seoul: North Koreans fire at soldier trying to defect to South

Seoul: North Koreans fire at soldier trying to defect to South

Seo said that at around 3:14 p.m. on Monday, the JCS spotted three North Korean soldiers moving south of the Panmungak, or the North's main building in the Joint Security Area. He was shot in the shoulder and elbow and was taken to a South Korean hospital, the South's Defense Ministry said. In 1984, a Soviet tourist sprinted across the demarcation line from North Korea in a bid to defect, prompting a gun battle that killed and wounded several soldiers from both sides.

The JSA is a tense area where South and North Korean soldiers confront each other face-to-face, day after day.

While on average more than 1,000 North Koreans defect to South Korea every year, most travel via China and it is unusual for a North Korean to cross the land border with South Korea.

A North Korean soldier was shot by his fellow troops as he was defecting to the south across the demilitarised zone but still managed to successfully cross the border.

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The incident, which happened in broad daylight around 4 pm, comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula over the North's nuclear weapons programme. The US has around 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

More than 30,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of the 1950-53 war, but it's rare for soldiers to flee across the DMZ, much less the JSA.

According to the South Korean military there was no exchange of fire across the border, and the UNC statement stressed that no South Korean or USA forces were harmed.

A JCS official quoted by Yonhap news agency said the South's soldiers heard a gunshot and then retrieved the unarmed soldier in the mid-afternoon.

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"The military has raised its alertness against the North Korean military's possible provocations and is maintaining its full readiness posture", the official said.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff official said he was found collapsed in a pile of fallen leaves and recovered by three South Korean soldiers crawling on their stomachs to his position. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the zone. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate North Korea.

Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, was photographed by North Korean soldiers while he stood inside one of the huts during a visit to the DMZ in March.

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