A North Korean soldier has defected to South Korea after shooting two of his fellow officers dead and fleeing through the heavily militarized border between the two countries.
The soldier revealed to military personnel in Seoul that he shot dead his platoon leader and a company commander before making his escape on Saturday.
An official with the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) revealed to Daily NK that South Korean border guards heard shots from across the border before the defecting soldier appeared. The official stated:
“Today at around 12:10pm gunshots were heard and then a single member of the North Korean military crossed the Military Demarcation Line from the north at Paju in Gyeonggi Province and declared his wish to defect. The escapee has informed us that he shot his platoon leader and company commander while on sentry duty at a border guard post and then ran away.”
The soldier is now in protective custody in Seoul, where he is being questioned by South Korean intelligence agents. JCS officials added that his defection did not cause any further security tensions between the two militaries.
While dozens of North Koreans attempt to defect from the communist country every year, this latest defection is something of a rarity, in that it was carried out across the tightly guarded and heavily armed De-militarised Zone (DMZ). The majority of North Korean defectors attempt to defect across the Amnok and Duman rivers and into China. However, China is increasingly repatriating North Korean defectors, who often face abuse, torture or even death on their return.
North and South Korea are technically still at war, as the two countries have not signed a peace treaty since the Korean War ended in 1953.