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

South Korea's Sejong the Great Aegis destroyer trains with three U.S. aircraft carriers in the East Sea on Nov. 12 2017 in this

A North Korean soldier was shot and injured by his own side Monday (Nov 13) while defecting to South Korea at the truce village of Panmunjom, the South's military said.

The man who is reportedly a low ranking soldier, was shot in the shoulder and elbow and was picked up bleeding on the south side of the border known as the Joint Security Area (JSA).

Seo went on to say that at 3:31 p.m., the JCS spotted the North Korean soldier lying in a pile of leaves some 50 meters south of the Military Demarcation Line and at around 3:56 p.m. three South Korean troops approached the North Korean soldier.

The Unification Ministry said North Korean soldiers also defected across the JSA in 2007 and 1998, but military officials said no shooting occurred during those incidents. He was unconscious and in critical condition on Tuesday, the surgeon in charge of the soldier's treatment, Lee Cook-jong, told reporters.

The Joint Security Area in Panmunjom is the only place in 155-mile-long and 2 ½ mile-wide Korean Demilitarized Zone where military-level meetings are held between the UN Command and North Korea.

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A North Korean soldier was shot by his fellow troops as he was defecting to the south across the demilitarised zone but still managed to successfully cross the border.

It was not immediately known how serious the soldier's injuries were or why he made a decision to defect. The US has around 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. The next 10 days will be crucial for his recovery, Lee was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency.

The defection came at a time of heightened tension over North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and could escalate animosities between the rival countries.

The 1953 ceasefire ending Korean War hostilities was signed at Panmunjom, and it has since hosted numerous rounds of inter-Korean talks - sometimes held in huts that straddle both sides of the border line.

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. The incident left three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean soldier dead. That prompted Washington to send nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to intimidate the North before the adversaries pulled back from the brink of conflict.

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