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Escaped North Korean soldier fights for life after being shot crossing DMZ

15 November 2017, 01:56 | Myrtle Vega

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A North Korean soldier was shot and injured by his own side Monday (Nov 13) while defecting to South Korea at the truce village of Panmunjom, the South's military said.

He was shot by a North Korean soldier but succeeded in crossing, the JCS added, and has been evacuated for medical treatment.

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the defector drove a auto into the northern side of the JSA before approaching an area just 10 meters (33 feet) from the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff here, South Korean guards were alerted by the sound of gunfire north of the border and found the soldier lying on the ground about 50 m south of the military demarcation line west of Freedom House around 3:30 p.m.

He was shot in the shoulder and elbow and was taken to a South Korean hospital, the Defence Ministry said.

Four North Korean soldiers chased after him, firing at least 40 rounds, including some with an AK-47 assault rifle, officials said Tuesday after reviewing security camera footage from the border.

The fact that the defector drove to the frontier suggests he may not have been a member of the elite corps of North Korean troops posted to Panmunjom, who are carefully vetted and selected for their loyalty.

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The CCL is drawn just below the heavily fortified demilitarised zone (DMZ) which divides South Korea from its rogue northern neighbour.

According to the South Korean military there was no exchange of fire across the border, and the UNC statement stressed that no South Korean or United States forces were harmed.

The defection came less than a week after President Donald Trump made his first official visit to South Korea amid soaring tensions over the growing nuclear and missile threat from the North.

South Korea's military said it has strengthened its vigilance and readiness posture in case of a possible military provocation by the North.

Areas around Panmunjom were the site of bloodshed and defection attempts by North Koreans in the past, but there have been no such incidents in recent years. They stand only several meters (yards) away from tall South Korean soldiers wearing aviator sunglasses and standing motionless like statues.

The most famous incident was in 1976, when two American army officers were killed by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers.

North Korea has typically accused South Korea of enticing its citizens to defect, something the South denies.



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