North and South Korea exchange fire as another soldier defects
A "low-ranking" North Korean soldier reportedly crossed the heavily-fortified land border and defected to South Korea Dec. 21, South Korean military officials said in a Yonhap News Agency report.
The incident did not spark a dramatic rescue like the one that captured international attention in November, when a North Korean soldier fled the country amid a hail of gunfire, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The latest soldier — believed to be around 19-years-old — to defect reportedly showed up in front of a guard post around 8:04 a.m. under a thick fog, the Joint Chiefs told Yonhap News.
Korean Demilitarized Zone. ROK and US Soldiers at Observation Post Ouellette, South Korea. (Army Photo by Edward N. Johnson.)
At 9:30 a.m., South Korean troops reportedly fired around 20 warning shots at North Korean border guards who approached the military demarcation line and appeared to search for their soldier, a South Korean official said.
Troops from North and South Korea were believed to have fired shots, according to military officials.
This would be the fourth defection by a North Korean soldier this year, the Joint Chiefs said to Yonhap News.
The defector in November — identified by his last name "Oh" and believed to be 24-years-old — was shot at least five times as he made his escape. US troops airlifted the defector by helicopter from the South Korean side of the border and transported him to a nearby hospital, where is he said to be recovering.