N. Korean soldier's defection sparks gunfire

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2017-12-21 11:31 Updated : 2017-12-21 14:12
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Press Corps.]

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Aju News) -- A North Korean soldier defected through the inter-Korean land border Thursday, sparking gunfire by South and North Korean border guards that apparently left no damage, military authorities said.

A young "low-ranking" soldier carrying an AK rifle reached a South Korean guard post at 8:04 am (2304 GMT) through the demilitarized zone (DMZ), a buffer zone which splits the Korean peninsula, according to the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

About 86 minutes later, South Korean troops fired 20 warning shots from a K-3 light machine-gun as several North Korean border guards ignored verbal warnings and approached a borderline in search of the defector, JCS officials said.

There were two rounds of gunfire on the North Korean side later, but South Korean troops reported no damage, they said.

South Korean soldiers using a surveillance device identified the defector who sneaked through thick fog, a JCS spokesman told reporters, adding the man was put into custody for questioning by security authorities.

He was the fourth North Korean soldier to defect to South Korea this year. The defection of a soldier on November 13 through the truce village of Panmunjom triggered a barrage of gunshots from North Korean guards. He has been recuperating at a hospital after being shot five times during his dramatic cross-border run.

On Wednesday, two North Korean men defected aboard an engineless fishing boat after it was found off the east coast by South Korea's Navy, according to the South's unification ministry.