N. Korean Soldier Shot while De­fect­ing to S. Korea


A North Korean soldier was shot and in­jured by his own side Mon­day while de­fect­ing to South Korea at the bor­der truce vil­lage of Pan­munjom, AFP re­ports the South’s mil­i­tary as say­ing.

The soldier, thought to be low rank­ing, was shot in the shoul­der and el­bow and was picked up bleed­ing on the South side of a por­tion of the bor­der known as the Joint Se­cu­rity Area (JSA).

It is rare for the North’s troops to de­fect at the truce vil­lage, a ma­jor tourist at­trac­tion bi­sected by the bor­der­line and the only part of the fron­tier where forces from the two sides come face-to-face.

“Our mil­i­tary has taken in a North Korean soldier af­ter he crossed from a North Korea post to­wards our Free­dom House,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a state­ment, re­fer­ring to a build­ing on the South side of the vil­lage.

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.

He was evac­u­ated to a pri­vate hos­pi­tal by a UN he­li­copter, the of­fi­cial added, say­ing the solider had re­gained con­scious­ness but de­clin­ing to com­ment on whether his in­juries were life-threat­en­ing.

No per­sonal de­tails have been re­leased but the soldier’s uni­form sug­gested he was low-rank­ing, Yon­hap said.

No tourists were in the Joint Se­cu­rity Area at the time be­cause tours do not run on Mon­days, a spokesman for United States Forces Korea, which ap­proves the vis­its, said.

There was no ex­change of gun­fire be­tween the two sides, but the South’s mil­i­tary said it has raised its level of alert­ness against any North Korean provo­ca­tions.

Also on Mon­day, South Korean po­lice ar­rested an Amer­i­can for en­ter­ing a re­stricted zone – in a sep­a­rate bor­der area – with the ap­par­ent in­ten­tion of cross­ing to the North, Yon­hap re­ported.

The man, iden­ti­fied only as a 58-year-old from Louisiana, had ar­rived in South Korea last week and wanted to en­ter the North for “po­lit­i­cal pur­poses”, but was re­ported by a lo­cal vil­lager, Yon­hap said.

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