North Korean soldier defects to the South at Joint Security Area: JCS

Casey Dawson
November 15, 2017

The soldier defected through Panmunjom village, along the Joint Security Area (JSA), which is policed by soldiers from both North Korea and South Korea.

"In the afternoon today, a North Korean soldier defected from a guard post on the North Korean side of the JSA toward our side and our military took him", the Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified military official as saying.

If North Korea is proven to have fired shots through the area, this would constitute a breach of the armistice agreement.

A North Korean soldier was fighting for his life Tuesday in a South Korean hospital as new details emerged from his brazen dash for freedom across the Demilitarized Zone.

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.

"He then exited the vehicle and continued fleeing south across the line as he was sacked upon by other soldiers from North Korea", UNC said in a statement.

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The soldier's successful escape makes only the fourth defection by a North Korean soldier through the DMZ in the last three years, the BBC reported.

"He has at least six gunshot wounds on his body and the penetrating wound in the abdomen is the most serious", the doctor, Lee Cook-Jong, told reporters, AFP said.

"They really want to know what is his end game", said DiMaggio, a scholar at New America who specializes in talking with rogue regimes and has spent almost two decades in secret discussions with the North Koreans.

South Korea's military has strengthened vigilance in the wake of the incident and remains prepared for any situation, the JCS said. His helicopter had to turn back because of bad weather.

The Unification Ministry said North Korean soldiers also defected across the JSA in 2007 and 1998, but military officials said no shooting occurred during those incidents. In addition, North Korean soldiers could have fired rifles and pistols when he was trying to cross the MDL.

It wasn't immediately known how serious the soldier's injuries were or why he chose to defect. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate North Korea.

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