N. Koreans fired 40 rounds at soldier as he defected to South, officers say
SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean soldier defected to the South by driving a army jeep to the road that divides the peninsula, then sprinting throughout it as 4 of his former comrades fired 40 rounds at him, officers stated Tuesday.
The beautiful escape occurred Monday at a collectively managed space that’s the solely level the place troopers from the 2 sides face one another within the Demilitarized Zone. U.S. and South Korean forces didn’t return fireplace.
The soldier was airlifted to a hospital south of Seoul and was reportedly in crucial situation. Officials haven’t launched particulars about his id or causes for defecting.
More than 30,000 North Koreans have defected to the South because the finish of the 1950-53 battle, but it surely’s uncommon for troopers to flee throughout the DMZ, a lot much less the Joint Security Area. The Unification Ministry stated it occurred earlier than in 2007 and 1998.
North Korea has not commented on the capturing, but it surely often responds angrily to defections and sometimes accuses South Korea of kidnapping its residents.
The U.S.-led United Nations Command, which oversees the South Korean facet of the JSA, stated the defector drove a automobile close to the de facto border line.
“He then exited the vehicle and continued fleeing south across the line as he was fired upon by other soldiers from North Korea,” it stated in an announcement. “The individual initially took cover near a building on the southern side of the JSA.”
U.S. and South Korean forces recovered him at about four p.m., then took him to Ajou University Medical Center south of Seoul, together with a UNC safety escort and translator, it stated.
Col. Roh Jae-cheon, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated the army first turned conscious of the scenario at three:31 p.m.
The soldier sped towards a guard publish in a Jeep, however its wheels obtained caught in a ditch, Roh informed reporters. “We closely monitored the situation with a surveillance system,” he stated.
The soldier was discovered beneath a pile of leaves, Roh stated, including he was in uniform however unarmed. No U.S. or South Korean troops have been injured.
Separately, Suh Wook, a senior JCS official, informed lawmakers that Seoul’s army believes 4 North Korean troopers fired about 40 pictures towards the defector.
Lee Guk-jong, a health care provider on the hospital, stated the soldier suffered critical accidents and was in crucial situation. The subsequent 10 days will probably be essential for his restoration, Lee was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency.
The defection got here lower than every week after President Donald Trump made his first official go to to South Korea amid hovering tensions over the rising nuclear and missile menace from the North.
South Korea’s army stated it has strengthened its vigilance and readiness posture in case of a doable army provocation by the North.
The DMZ is a 2.5-mile vast, 150-mile lengthy buffer zone lined with barbed wire and dotted with landmines. The JSA offers the adversaries with a impartial zone and has been the location of previous dialogue.
The 1953 armistice that ended the combating however left the nations technically at battle was signed in one of many blue buildings that straddle the Military Demarcation Line.
It’s additionally a preferred cease for vacationers and dignitaries, together with a number of U.S. presidents.
Trump tried to make a shock go to to the DMZ final week, however his helicopter was pressured to show again to Seoul after heavy fog prevented it from touchdown on the frontier.
Violence has damaged out within the space prior to now. In 1984, a Soviet vacationer sprinted throughout the demarcation line from North Korea in a bid to defect, prompting a gun battle that killed and wounded a number of troopers from each side.
Two American troopers additionally have been killed within the DMZ by ax-wielding North Korean troopers in a 1976 brawl over an try to trim a poplar tree. That prompted Washington to ship nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to intimidate the North earlier than the adversaries pulled again from the brink of battle.
Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.