FILE - In this April 24, 2013, file photo, North Korean soldiers stand on steps overlooking the border village of Panmunjom, North Korea, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War. South Korea said on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, that North Korean soldiers shot at and injured a fellow soldier who was crossing the border village to try to defect to the South. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the injured North Korean was being taken to a hospital after crossing the border village of Panmunjom. Defections are rare by that route. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder, File)
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Seoul: N Koreans fired 40 shots at defector; hit him with 5

24 Comments
By HYUNG-JIN KIM

Four North Korean soldiers fired 40 rounds at a comrade fleeing into South Korea and hit him five times in the first shooting at the jointly controlled area of the heavily fortified border since 1984, the South's military said Tuesday.

South Korean soldiers did not fire their weapons in response, but Monday's incident occurred at a time of high animosity over North Korea's nuclear program and Pyongyang has expressed intense anger over past defections.

The soldier is being treated at a South Korean hospital after a five-hour operation for the gunshot wounds he suffered during his escape across the Joint Security Area. His personal details and motive for defection are unknown and his exact medical condition is unclear.

South Korea's military said he suffered injuries in his internal organs but wasn't in a life-threatening condition. But an official at the Ajou University Medical Center near Seoul said the soldier was relying on a breathing machine after the surgery removed the bullets. The official, who requested anonymity citing official rules, said doctors plan more surgery and it is too early to know if he is out of danger.

On Monday, he first drove a military jeep before he left the vehicle after one of its wheels fell into a ditch. He then fled across the JSA, with fellow soldiers chasing and firing at him, South Korea's military said, citing unspecified surveillance systems installed in the area.

Suh Wook, chief director of operations for the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that North Korea fired a total of 40 rounds in a shooting that his office said was believed to have started while the soldier was in the jeep.

The solider was found beneath a pile of leaves and South Korean troops crawled there to recover him. A U.N. Command helicopter later transported him to the Ajou University Medical Center, according to South Korean officials.

The North's official media hasn't reported about the case, but it previously accused of Seoul of kidnapping or enticing its citizens to defect. About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly travel via China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The JSA is jointly overseen by the American-led U.N. Command and by North Korea, with South Korean and North Korean border guards facing each other only meters (feet) apart. There are a cluster of blue huts straddling blocks of concrete that forms the border line and other building in the area.

It's located inside the 4-kilometer-wide (2 1/2-mile-wide) mine-strewn Demilitarized Zone, whose northern and southern boundaries are guarded by barbed wire fences and combat troops. It's created as a buffer zone when the three-year Korean War ended with an armistice in 1953.

Monday's shooting was the first at the Joint Security Area since North Korean and U.N. Command soldiers traded gunfire when a Soviet citizen defected by sprinting to the South Korean sector of the JSA in 1984. A North Korean soldier defected there in 1998 and another in 2007 but neither of those events involved gunfire between the rivals, according to South Korea's military.

The 1984 exchange of gunfire happened after North Korean soldiers crossed the border and fired, according to the U.N. Command.

In Monday's incident, it wasn't known if the North continued firing even after the defector was officially in the southern part of the Joint Security Area.

South Korean troops didn't fire at the North on Monday, and the U.N. Command said Tuesday that an investigation into the incident was underway.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.


24 Comments
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Hope the guy pulls through. Apparently the docs called a halt to surgery as they felt he could not take much more right now. Luckily most of the bullets/fragments passed right through, nicking various vital organs. They plan to watch him and then do follow-up surgery in a week or so, according to other sources.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

That guy is pretty badass.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Mr. Un, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

On the J Yahoo news they are saying he took six hits; the surgeon says the worst was the one that passed right through the abdomen.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This guy is lucky to be a alive, no doubt that his relatives and friends in NK will be brutality punished. this guy must have been desperate to move to the SK, he's dodged bullets, mine fields, fear of reprisal for his friends, etc

5 ( +5 / -0 )

such a great country the people are willing to get shot to leave...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sounds like they really do not want people to leave that country, especially those connected with politics, politicians or the military. We should consider ourselves lucky we do not live under some conditions and always be wary when our own politicians wish to curtail our civil liberties in the name of .....(take your pick).

Hope the guy pulls through and eventually lives a happy life

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If he pull through and survives, his family will be in great troubles! This is what you people didnt know!  And all other 4 soldiers who fired on him were in troubles too! Bad marksmanship!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Hmmm. I imagine most posters here are pretty clued up on what happens to families of dissidents and/or political prisoners.

In case anyone has any doubts; I cannot recommend highly enough Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy - the award-winning book focuses on defectors and the country they leave behind. Grim, moving and utterly fascinating.

Hopefully the kid will survive. He's come this far.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Like East Germany on Checkpoint Charlie back in the day

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I visited NK & the DMZ 20 years ago. They did nothing but bad-mouth the US, Japan and SK. They're all hate & fear. Deep sorrow for those living in NK.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Another fine example of marxism/communism at work; they shoot people who try to leave. Quite the workers' paradise.

lol

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It sounds legit anyway (or, that this defector isn't a plant and they risked killing him just to get him to give us bad info).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

And spare a thought for those SK soldiers who rescued him under real danger of getting shot.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

"Seoul: N Koreans fired 40 shots at defector; hit him with 5"(!?)

If its true the NK defector soldier was dead, on the other hand the North Koreans who shot him didn't want to really kill him or they were myopic without glasses.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

He's crawling through the mud, counting: "one! two! OUCH!! four! five! six! SONUVA!! eight! nine! ..."

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Could this be a sign of the impact of the recent sanctions ?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Could this be a sign of the impact of the recent sanctions ?

No its a sign that he lived in a brutal dictatorship more concerned with building military power than feeding starving citizens for decades.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I read he was hit in the shoulder and elbow.

I wonder which story is the right one?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Daring feat but I understand why he would do this. It's the ones who try to make it the OTHER WAY that I don't quite understand.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It speaks volumes about a country when the departure of its citizens is described in terms of "escape." That verb is used for prisoners.

Although a major difference is that people escaping actual prisons are often considered risks to the outside whereas people escaping countries like NK are considered risks to the inside.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I agree. But....How do we explain guys like this?

"UIJEONGBU, South Korea -- A US citizen was arrested by South Korean police Monday for crossing the Civilian Control Line near the inter-Korean border without a permit in an alleged attempt to enter North Korea, authorities concerned said"

"Hailing from Louisiana, the American reportedly came to the South three days ago and violated the line to enter the communist North for political purposes. "

http://m.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20171113000831

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fortunately, someone escaping from "paradise" survived.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

IF NK is such a wonderful place to live in, and the rest of the world are heathens, barbarians, infidel, etc, does any one know if any one has gone there to live from the west?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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