Shots Fired as N. Korea Soldier Defects Through DMZ

Defector walked through thick fog to checkpoint
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2017 1:13 AM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2017 6:31 AM CST
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. Spokesman Roh Jae-cheon speaks during a press conference regarding Thursday's defection by a North Korean solder, in Seoul, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – For the second time in two months, shots have been fired during a North Korean soldier's defection across the DMZ—and this time, it was South Koreans doing the shooting. The South Korean military says the "low ranking" soldier was manning a guard post before he walked across the DMZ in thick fog early Thursday, emerging at a checkpoint, the New York Times reports. The military says that South Korean soldiers fired around 20 warning shots when a North Korean search party approached the border. Gunfire was heard from the North around 40 minutes later, though no shots are believed to have crossed the border, the BBC reports. Last month, another defector was shot five times by his fellow soldiers.

A South Korean military spokesman says fog limited visibility at the checkpoint on the center-western frontline to around 100 yards, but the defecting soldier was detected by surveillance equipment before he reached the border. The spokesman said the soldier, the fourth to defect this year, is now "safely secure." He said the North Korean would be questioned to determine his background and his reasons for making the rare and dangerous crossing. Reuters reports that South Korean authorities say two more defectors from the North, civilians in a fishing boat, also arrived in the South on Thursday. There has been no comment from Pyongyang on either incident. (China is reportedly preparing refugee camps in case large numbers of North Koreans flee across the border.)

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