Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

North Korean Soldier Is Shot While Defecting Across DMZ, South Says

North Korean Soldier Is Shot While Defecting Across DMZ, South Says

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.

About 1,000 people from the North flee to the South each year - but very few defect via the DMZ.

Meanwhile, three USA aircraft carriers are joining a combined exercise with the South Korean Navy in the East Sea in a show of force against North Korea.

"He crossed from a North Korea post towards our [South Korean] Freedom House", the South said in a statement. After administering first aid, they took him to a hospital in a helicopter of the UN Command's Military Armistice Commission.

How many North Koreans defect annually?

South Korean forces have identified him only as "A" and said the man arrived in the country on Friday.

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. "Since China has not retracted its official position that THAAD damages its strategic interests, the THAAD issue continues to simmer and could still boil over under the right circumstances", said Lee Hui-ok, director of the Sungkyun Institute of China Studies.

"But our military is keeping a full readiness posture against the possibility of North Korea's provocations", a military official said in a briefing.

It's the third time this year that a North Korean soldier defected.

It said an investigation into Monday's event was ongoing.

North Korea this year is boosting its nuclear and missile capacity.

Trump is at the end of his 12-day tour to Asia where he's meeting with leaders and addressing the denuclearization of North Korea. In September, it carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test - of what it described as "a hydrogen bomb". The incident left three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean soldier dead.

During a parliamentary session, Kim also dismissed speculation that Pyongyang captured the boat, 391 Hungjin, last month in a move to sow discord in South Korea's society long split over how to deal with the provocative regime.

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