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S Korean female tourist shot dead by N Korean soldier

31 Comments

A North Korean soldier fatally shot a South Korean tourist Friday at a mountain resort in the communist north, prompting the South to suspend the high-profile tour program just as the new South Korean president sought to rekindle strained ties between the divided countries.

The news of the shooting of a 53-year-old woman at Diamond Mountain resort emerged just hours after new President Lee Myung-bak delivered a nationwide address calling for restored contacts between the two Koreas, which have been on hold since he took office in February.

The woman had been ordered to halt after entering a military area early Friday at the resort, and ran away before North Korean soldiers opened fire, said South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyeon, quoting information given by the South Korean company that operates the resort, Hyundai Asan.

Kim said South Korea would suspend future Diamond Mountain tours until it completes an investigation into the case.

The victim was identified only by her last name, Park. Kim said she had left her room at 4:30 a.m. local time, and was shot around 5 a.m. Her body was moved to a hospital in the South Korean city of Sokcho.

Park apparently received gunshots in two parts of her body, ministry official Kim Joong-tae said.

The North had informed Hyundai Asan about the shooting, but there has not yet been any communication from the North Korean government to Seoul officials about the death.

The resort on the peninsula's eastern coast, which opened in 1998, is one of the most high-profile projects between the two Koreas.

Hyundai Asan operates the Diamond Mountain resort as a tourist enclave inside the communist North, complete with South Korean convenience stores and a duty-free shop selling luxury goods. The area is one of two North Korean tourist programs run by the company, which are the only sites inside the reclusive nation that are open to relatively free access by visitors.

About 1.9 million visitors, mostly South Koreans, have visited the site, including some 190,000 people this year, according to the Unification Ministry.

In March, the North opened the resort to tourists driving in private cars across the heavily armed border dividing the Koreas.

The two Koreas remain technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a cease-fire. However, they have made strides in reconciliation since the first-ever summit in 2000 between leaders of the North and South.

Relations have chilled since South Korea's new President Lee took office with a tougher policy on the North.

However, Lee proposed Friday a resumption of dialogue between the Koreas and said he would respect earlier agreements from North-South summits, a softening of his earlier stance.

"Full dialogue between the two Koreas must resume," Lee said told the opening session of parliament. "The South Korean government is willing to engage in serious consultations on how to implement" the summit deals and other previous agreements between the two sides, he said.

Lee also said he is "ready to cooperate in efforts to help relieve the food shortage in the North as well as alleviate the pain of the North Korean people."

International agencies have warned that North Korea is facing its worst food shortages in years due to severe floods last year. The shortages were aggravated by the lack of assistance from South Korea amid stalled relations. Lee's predecessors regularly sent food across the heavily armed border.

The South Korean president also urged the North to resolve humanitarian issues such as resuming reunions of families separated between the Koreas, and also allowing hundreds of South Korean POWs and civilians believed to be held in the North to return home.

© Wire reports

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

31 Comments
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wow! what a worm welcome to their own sister and brother!

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Oh, geez.... whenever this happens it sets the levels of any progress back to what they were immediately after WWII. I'm very sorry for this woman, and angry at the NK government, but I hope it doesn't set the two governments back at high alert and the DMZ into a slaughter house.

I've lived in Korea and been there dozens of times since, and your average Skorean doesn't necessarily think badly of his brothers and sisters to the North, but any time an incident happens where someone is killed by the other side, they immediately hate ALL North Koreans and become incredibly suspicious. It's a very sad state.

I hope the talks go well and the people who did the shooting are properly reprimanded. If the woman did step into military territory then she shares a small part of the blame (in fact, on most tours into or around NKorea you have to sign documents saying that no party other than the person in question is responsible for whatever occurs), but I doubt very much that whoever shot her saw her and thought -- 'oh my god, this woman must be a spy, etc.'. They probably just shot her because they could, because she entered into a place she shouldn't have. So now it's up to the North Koreans to react appropriately, and up to the South Koreans (by both I mean governments first) to push, though not too hard, for an appropriate response. Still... when you have an entire nation of people angry, politics tend to curry favour to those who are angry, and not necessarily to what could be called 'best'.

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Well, the lack of information sent me off sifting through other news sources; the following site gives a little more detail:

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080711-00000028-yonh-kr

She climbed over the wire fencing of the DMZ and entered it, and a NK soldier shouted at her to stop. He then fired several warning shots, but she continued to run away, so he shot and killed her.

Still can't find whether she was shot in the front of the chest and legs, or from the rear... but wrong place at at the wrong time, and the wrong reactions, it seems.

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nandakandamanda: Thanks for the info. Definitely sounds like she's to blame for being shot AT, anyway, but that's not going to stop a frenzy of SKorean anger. It seems, after all, my comments on them shooting her simply because they could were premature. Perhaps the shot to the leg was meant to stop her, and the one to the chest was unintentional (or badly aimed). It was a very stupid thing on her part, and she paid the price. I'm not suggesting that means she deserved it.... not at all... but how stupid can you get?

The last time someone tried to cross into the North via the DMZ it resulted in a melee that left a few on both side dead, and increased tensions to a very high point. At that time it was a German doctor kicked out of NK who wanted to go back in and help people, and the tour provided the closest means of 'defecting'.

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"She climbed over the wire fencing of the DMZ", sounds like the DPRK's line on the events. But I don't know. Other sources just say she "strayed into" an area, and warning shots were fired. No verbal warnings. Now If I heard some shooting, I wound't stand in a place too, I'd haul out. Now I don't know what this lady looked liked or her health condition, but fences in restricted areas are pretty high and though usually with barbed wire, but even even your garden variety fence seems pretty tough for 50 year old women to climb over.

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Badge123, yes, it was NK's version of events.

Women, however, can be very tough when it suits them. Perhaps she was after some special traditional greenery that is reputed to grow now only in the DMZ. If she was walking along the beach as one source suggests, perhaps the barbed wire fencing was in a bad state of repair. She may even have followed an animal track, who knows?

The old adage of 'Move towards a gun, and away from a knife' seems to hold true here.

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Could this have been suicide by DMZ, just a thought.

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Possibly a spy?

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She sounds like a spy. Spies get shot.

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This reminds me on berlin wall jumpers, who got shot dead. Sometime in future I think, koreans, also will suddenly decide to become, united one day.

They have all past ingredients of unity by east germans/west germans to promote their solutions of ideological differences and wealth diferences.

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Don't sound all that different from the guys/gals trying to cross the "Iron Curtain" a few decades ago. There are even books with true stories on how some of them escaped to the west.

You know clinging to the landing gear of jets and nearly freezing to death, etc.

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"She sounds like a spy. Spies get shot."

The idea of a spy climbing a fence into the DMZ is idiocy. If one is actually a spy, and wants to be shot or caught, why not just paint it on them -- no spy would do such a thing. Grow up, people.

The only possible explanations I can offer are two:

The woman was legitimately lost and for some reason stupidly climbed the fence leading into the DMZ.

She wanted into NK, possibly because she was sick of the crap there and wanted to help, or had someone there she wanted to help, and found the 'quickest way in'.

Either way, the result is the same.... you climb a fence in the DMZ and you are going to face severe consequences.

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Wiliamsmith... No, spies should never get shot, spies should be put in prison and then exchanged against other spies /prisoner/money or any other item deemed valuable to the country who caught him. At least during the cold war it was one of the rules. Had they started shooting spies back then things could have gone extremely bad. Like real bad, baaad.

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ah yeah, 53 year old woman climbs over wire fence at 4:30am.... hmmm must of been sleep walking/climbing. Going via the DMZ into N.Korea is not the best route, going through China or sea is a much safer approach.

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A tragedy. I'm inclined to disbelieve the North Korean Account, as her media is controlled and subject to disbelief as a result. Whatever the case, it is a tragedy....

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The North Korean version of the story is probably pure propaganda. However one wonders why she'd be so stupid as to enter the DMZ.

Possibly a spy?

A spy would be a little more discreet.

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Blue: "A tragedy. I'm inclined to disbelieve the North Korean Account, as her media is controlled and subject to disbelief as a result. Whatever the case, it is a tragedy...."

Agreed that any NK account is likely dodgy, but do you think you're reading an NK account? It's not like you're watching NK news and deciding that you don't believe their account, you're reading wire reports from Western sources, and automatically assuming they have more credit.

Let's be objective until we get more 'facts'.

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More news from here and there. Some say she was 53, other 58. According to this latest article: http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20080711-00000971-san-int

she was walking by the beach. The TV was saying earlier that NK said she climbed over a 2 m high wire fence. The NK soldier tried to stop her by shouting and firing live warning shots, but she kept running about 1 km towards a small village, at which point he shot her. South Korea has announced that having seen the body, she was shot from behind and has at least two bullet wounds in her back.

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smithinjapan, the NK Media is publishing hwat they want yu to hear. No different than what happens in Red China now, no different than what happened in the former Soviet Union. All this glorious news from Red China about her economic boom is totally iffy at est, and so is this story from North Korea. Both PRC Media and NK Media let you hear what they want you to hear.

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Fact of the matter is - what was she doing wandering around at 4.30 in the morning anyway?!

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She could have been out praying alone. South Korea has a hgh Christian population, and many go to Prayer Meetings at 5:30am. This lady may have been out walking and praying by herself before going to a group meeting.

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I agree it was tragic, but if the story is true she was ordered to stop.

If this was an act in an American facility, I'd be hearing how the soldiers were justified.

I hope this one act doesn't slow down the good things that have happened in the last year or so. < :-)

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she was in NK at a NK resort = she was not trying to get into NK, but went outside the resort boundary.

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She was ordered to stop.

I don't know about you, but I understand the command.

B/S about this prayers crap or this or that.

Ordered to stop. < :-)

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South Korean businessmen and government are naive to try to engage in capitalist activities with the Northern communists.

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SK government now should educate more its citizens about the dealing with deadly killing machines of NK:no free speech,no demonstration,no freedom,no democracy...let them go to see you not you go to see them may be the safest option.The only trouble is "they" have no money!

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South korea must resume tours,should not let this unfortunate incident prevent travel between koreas via tourism resorts.

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She could have been out praying alone. South Korea has a hgh Christian population, and many go to Prayer Meetings at 5:30am. This lady may have been out walking and praying by herself before going to a group meeting.

well...its a long shot, less than 30% of SK are christian, and even if she was christian she might have just been popping out to buy a cornetto. still nice attempt to shoehorn some "hallelujah" in the story

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What a timely demonstration of good will by NK. Just in time to remind Japans government it should shut up about its abductees and support this wonderful new friendly regime next door.

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adaydream - That is what the NK Media is saying that their men said to the lady. For all we know, they could have stormed in to her room, dragged her out, had their way with her, then, ordered her to "run", shooting her in the back when she did so. I trust the NK Media and their reports of this incident as much as I trust pigs to grow wings and fly...

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Anyone wonder why a resort is right next to a DMZ with armed soldiers ready to shoot? I am guessing the DMZ surrounded the resort and was created to keep the tourists inside the resort so they do not venture out to see the real NK.

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