North Korean defector was shot six times by border troops: UNC

N. Korean Soldier Shot and Injured Defecting Across JSA

The U.S. -led United Nations Command, which oversees the South Korean side of the JSA, said the defector drove the jeep near the de facto border line. In that short period of time, four North Korean soldiers shot as many as 40 rounds at him.

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.

Soldiers from the North have occasionally defected to South Korea across the border but it is rare for a North Korean soldier to defect via the Joint Security Area, where border guards of the rival Koreas stand facing each other just metres apart, and be shot by fellow North Korean soldiers.

No tourists were in the Joint Security Area at the time and there was no exchange of gunfire between the two sides.

North Korea has not commented on the shooting, but it usually responds angrily to defections and often accuses South Korea of kidnapping its citizens.

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

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Over the decades since the peninsula was divided, dozens of North Korean soldiers have fled to the South through the DMZ, which extends for two kilometers either side of the actual borderline.

"We will have to ride out some crucial moments over the next 10 days", Lee said.

South Korea's military has strengthened vigilance in the wake of the incident and remains prepared for any situation, the JCS said.

The DMZ is a 2.5-mile wide, 150-mile-long buffer zone lined with barbed wire and dotted with landmines.

The 1953 armistice that ended the fighting but left the countries technically at war was signed in one of the blue buildings that straddle the Military Demarcation Line.

He was shot in the shoulder and elbow and was taken to a South Korean hospital, the Defence Ministry said. In addition, North Korean soldiers could have fired rifles and pistols when he was trying to cross the MDL. His helicopter had to turn back because of bad weather. In September the North carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test, of what it described as a hydrogen bomb.

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