South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) has assessed that North Korean troops fired some 40 rounds at a North Korean soldier as he sprinted across the heavily-fortified border to defect to the South on Monday.
A North Korean soldier who suffered critical gunshot wounds during a defection dash this week over the border with South Korea was being operated upon for a second time early on Wednesday, the hospital treating him said.
A United Nations agency said today the North Korean soldier who crossed over to South Korea on Monday was "shot six times by North Korean border troops" as he made his way across the heavily guarded border separating the two countries.
"He crossed from a North Korea post towards our [South Korean] Freedom House", the South said in a statement. "The individual initially took cover near a building on the southern side of the JSA."U.S. and South Korean forces recovered him at about 4 p.m., then took him to Ajou University Medical Center south of Seoul, along with a UNC security escort and translator, it said".
Seoul has also placed its army in full combat readiness in order to tackle any form of provocation by the North.
KCNA also cited other recent US military moves, such as the first deployment of stealthy US Air Force F-35 fighters to Okinawa, as signs Washington is ramping up for war against North Korea.
About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly via China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. 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 risky conditions. They stand only several yards away from tall South Korean soldiers wearing aviator sunglasses and standing motionless like statues. More than a million mines are believed to be buried inside the zone.
The defection comes at a time of increased tension on the Korean peninsula, with fears of another highly-provocative missile launch growing.
If North Korea is proven to have fired shots through the area, this would constitute a breach of the armistice agreement.
Surgeons had removed five bullets from the soldier's body, leaving two inside, Suh added, to murmurs from lawmakers who said the soldier's escape was "right out of a movie".
North Korean military personnel are reportedly preparing for their winter training exercises as three USA aircraft carriers lurk near the Korean Peninsula in an unprecedented show of force by Washington's navy.
The incident left three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean soldier dead.