North Korean soldier is shot whereas defecting, South says


A South Korean soldier stands guard at a military checkpoint near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, June 7, 2014.

A South Korean soldier stands guard at a navy checkpoint close to the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the 2 Koreas because the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea, June 7, 2014.

 (Associated Press)

A North Korean soldier was hospitalized early Monday after being shot by fellow North Korean troops as he defected to the South, in keeping with South Korea’s navy.

The soldier had been crossing the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff mentioned in an announcement.

The soldier was crossing a collectively managed space on the closely guarded border, the South’s navy mentioned.

North Korean troopers have sometimes defected to South Korea throughout the border. But it is uncommon for a North Korean soldier to defect through the Joint Security Area, the place border guards of the rival Koreas stand going through one another simply meters (ft) away, and be shot by fellow North Korean troopers.

The soldier bolted from a guard publish on the northern facet of Panmunjom village within the Joint Security Area to the southern facet of the village, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff mentioned in an announcement.

He was shot in a shoulder and an elbow and was taken to a South Korean hospital, the South’s Defense Ministry mentioned. It wasn’t instantly identified how critical the soldier’s accidents had been or why he determined to defect.

South Korean troops discovered the injured soldier south of the border after listening to sounds of gunfire, a South Korean Defense Ministry official mentioned, requesting anonymity, citing division guidelines. South Korean troops did not fireplace on the North, he mentioned.

The defection got here at a time of heightened stress over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and will escalate animosities between the rival international locations. North Korea has usually accused South Korea of engaging its residents to defect, one thing the South denies.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea because the finish of the 1950-53 Korean War, however most journey by means of China.

Panmunjom, as soon as an obscure farming village contained in the Four-kilometer-wide (2 1/2-mile-wide) Demilitarized Zone that separates the 2 Koreas, is the place an armistice was signed to pause the Korean War.

Jointly managed by the American-led U.N. Command and North Korea, the DMZ is guarded on either side by tons of of hundreds of combat-ready troops, razor-wire fences and tank traps. More than one million mines are believed to be buried contained in the zone.

American presidents usually go to Panmunjom and different DMZ areas throughout their journeys to South Korea to reaffirm their safety dedication to the South.

President Donald Trump deliberate to go to the DMZ to underscore his stance towards North Korea’s nuclear program when he got here to South Korea final week as a part of an Asian tour, however his plans had been thwarted by heavy fog that prevented his helicopter from touchdown on the border space.

At Panmunjom, North Korean troopers carrying lapel pins with the photographs of late North Korean leaders usually use binoculars to observe guests from the South. They stand solely a number of meters (yards) away from South Korean troopers carrying aviator sun shades whereas adopting taekwondo stances. This makes the realm a well-liked cease for guests from either side.

Areas round Panmunjom had been the positioning of bloodshed and defection makes an attempt by North Koreans up to now, however there have been no such incidents lately.

The most well-known incident was in 1976, when two U.S. Army officers had been killed by ax-wielding North Korean troopers. The badault prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers towards the DMZ in an try and intimidate North Korea.

In 1984, North Korean and U.N. Command troopers traded gunfire after a Soviet citizen defected by sprinting to the South Korean sector of the truce village. The incident left three North Korean troopers and one South Korean soldier useless. In 1998, a North Korean solider fled to South Korea through Panmunjom.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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