N.Korean Soldier Flees Through Hail of Bullets

A North Korean soldier is being moved to an operation room in Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province on Monday. /Yonhap

A North Korean soldier fled to South Korea through a hail of bullets in the Joint Security Area on Monday afternoon.

The man suffered six or seven gunshot wounds to the abdomen. Internal organ damage is so severe that it will take two or three days to find out whether he can survive an operation.

But there was no direct exchange of gunfire between South and North Korean guards in the process.

These were the first gunshots fired at the truce village of Panmunjom in 33 years and the first defection of a North Korean soldier there since 2007.

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff here, South Korean guards were alerted by the sound of gunfire north of the border and found the soldier lying on the ground about 50 m south of the military demarcation line around 3:30 p.m.

The guards crawled toward him and took him to the back of Freedom House. After administering first aid, they took him to a hospital in a helicopter.

It is unclear whether any North Korean bullets flew across the MDL.

A military spokesman here said the matter will have to be investigated by the UN Command, which administers the area.