South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) has assessed that North Korean troops fired some 40 rounds at a North Korean soldier as he sprinted across the heavily-fortified border to defect to the South on Monday.
He suffered a gunshot wound and is now recovering in a South Korean hospital, the military said. "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 4 p.m., then took him to Ajou University Medical Center south of Seoul, along with a UNC security escort and translator, it said".
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.
The rare defection took place as a joint naval exercise, which included three American aircraft carriers and seven South Korean warships, was being carried out in waters off South Korea's east coast. We urge the top brass to get to the bottom of the case involving North Korean soldiers shooting at a fleeing defector and come up with measures to prevent such a mishap in the future.
The soldier was found near the border village of Panmunjom, about 50 metres south of the Military Demarcation Line.
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South Korea's military has strengthened vigilance in the wake of the incident and remains prepared for any situation, the JCS said. In addition, North Korean soldiers could have fired rifles and pistols when he was trying to cross the MDL. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the zone. They stand only several meters (yards) away from tall South Korean soldiers wearing aviator sunglasses and standing motionless like statues.
The defection came during escalated tensions between the North and the South and almost a week after President Trump visited Seoul for his five-country Asia tour.
The most famous incident was in 1976, when two American army officers were killed by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers.
The incident left three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean soldier dead. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate North Korea.
North Korea has typically accused South Korea of enticing its citizens to defect, something the South denies.