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North Korean soldier defects to South Korea at truce village
15 November 2017, 12:54 | Darnell Patrick
039;Trump's visit one of most embarrassing foreign trips taken by US president'
A North Korean soldier defected to the South by driving a military jeep to the line that divides the peninsula, then sprinting across it under a hail of gunfire from his former comrades, officials said Tuesday.
It occurred in one of the few spots that such an attempt is possible: the Joint Security Area in the truce village of Panmunjom, the only part of the heavily fortified DMZ where North Koreans and South Koreans face each other.
According to the South Korean military there was no exchange of fire across the border, and the UNC statement stressed that no South Korean or U.S. forces were harmed.
It wasn't immediately known how serious the soldier's injuries were or why he chose to defect. The South Korean military said he was unarmed and was wearing a combat uniform for a low ranking soldier.
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. In that short period of time, four North Korean soldiers shot as many as 40 rounds at him. An estimated 1,000 people flee Kim Jong Un's volatile regime each year, but going through the DMZ - fortified with land mines, barbed wires and machine guns - have been extremely rare because of the unsafe conditions. What were they really doing when the defector received multiple gunshots from North Korean guards?
"His organs are extremely damaged. we do not know how long he can hold up", Lee said, describing the soldier's condition as "very serious".
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Panmunjomis where an armistice was signed to pause the Korean War.
He added that South Korean troops did not fire at the North. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the zone.
The defection came less than a week after President Donald Trump made his first official visit to South Korea amid soaring tensions over the growing nuclear and missile threat from the North.
Although there have been a handful of defections across the DMZ in recent years, escapes through the tense Joint Security Area are rare.
The most famous incident was in 1976, when two American army officers were killed by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers. In September the North carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test, of what it described as a hydrogen bomb.
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