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North Korean soldier shot a number of times while trying to defect to the south

The soldier survived the shooting.

South Korean soldiers stand guard in the border village of Panmunjom between South and North Korea at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
South Korean soldiers stand guard in the border village of Panmunjom between South and North Korea at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

A NORTH KOREAN soldier was shot and injured by his own side while defecting to South Korea at the border truce village of Panmunjom, the South’s military said.

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 brought to a private hospital by a UN helicopter, the official added, saying the soldier had regained consciousness but declined to comment on whether his injuries were life-threatening.

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.

Earlier today, 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.

He is currently under questioning by the South’s police, army and spy agency.

- © AFP, 2017

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