More than 30,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of the 1950-53 war, but it's very rare for soldiers to flee across the DMZ, much less the Joint Security Area.
The soldier bolted from a guard post at the northern side of Panmunjom village in the Joint Security Area to the southern side of the village, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. Seo said that shortly after, one North Korean soldier was seen crossing toward the South on a jeep.
South Korean military said there was no armed conflict after the incident, but they are "increasing alertness" for a possible provocation from North Korea.
All channels for dialogue are now cut off between Seoul and Pyongyang after North Korea's relentless development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
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South Korean forces have identified him only as "A" and said the man arrived in the country on Friday.
It was not immediately known how serious the soldier's injuries were or why he made a decision to defect.
The fact that the defector drove to the frontier suggests he may not have been a member of the elite corps of North Korean troops posted to Panmunjom, who are carefully vetted and selected for their loyalty. According to The New York Times, following a blast of gunfire, South Korean troops found a bleeding North Korean soldier on their side of the border on Monday (13 November).
These were the first gunshots fired at the truce village of Panmunjom in 33 years and the first defection of a North Korean soldier since 2007.
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North Korea has typically accused South Korea of enticing its citizens to defect, something the South denies. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the zone. They stand only several yards away from tall South Korean soldiers wearing aviator sunglasses and standing motionless like statues.
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. In September the North carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test, of what it described as a hydrogen bomb.
A North Korean soldier defected to the South by driving a vehicle to the line that divides the peninsula, then sprinting across it as his former comrades opened fire, the United Nations Command said Tuesday.
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