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.
The soldier, whose rank and identity have not been disclosed, was flown by helicopter to hospital on Monday after his escape to South Korea, during which he was sacked on by four North Korean soldiers.
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.
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.
More than 30,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of the 1950-53 war, but it's rare for soldiers to flee across the DMZ, much less the JSA.
North Korean government officials told CNN's Will Ripley in Pyongyang last week that the United States was increasingly taking action that could "ignite another Korean War".
It marks the first massive joint drills since Seoul and Washington agreed last month to enhance rotational deployments of US strategic assets to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
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The United States has said that all options, including military, are on the table to deal with North Korea, although its preference is for a diplomatic solution.
South Korean forces have identified him only as "A" and said the man arrived in the country on Friday.
Panmunjom, once an obscure farming village inside the 2 1/2-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, is where an armistice was signed to pause the Korean War. In Monday's incident, it wasn't known if the North continued firing after the defector was officially in the southern part of the Joint Security Area.
The 58-year-old American, identified as only as "A" and reportedly from the USA state of Louisiana, was arrested by South Korean police at midnight on Monday (9.55am local time) after he crossed over the Civilian Control Line (CCL) near the North Korean border.
The incident left three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean soldier dead. The U.N. Command said Tuesday that an investigation into the incident was underway.
In 1976, North Korean soldiers axed two American army officers to death and the United States responded by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate the North.