N. Korean soldier who defected used a vehicle to escape

Mr Turnbull in Hong Kong for a brief official visit after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam likened North Korea to a criminal syndicate

Mr Turnbull in Hong Kong for a brief official visit after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam likened North Korea to a criminal syndicate

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. He was reportedly in critical condition.

No tourists were in the Joint Security Area at the time and there was no exchange of gunfire between the two sides.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the Korean War, but most travel through China.

He added that South Korean troops did not fire at the North.

The defection came during escalated tensions between the North and the South and almost a week after President Trump visited Seoul for his five-country Asia tour.

"He crossed from a North Korea post towards our [South Korean] Freedom House", the South said in a statement.

Col. Roh Jae-cheon, a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the military first became aware of the situation around 3:31 p.m. "We closely monitored the situation with a surveillance system", he said. No U.S. or South Korean troops were injured.

A North Korean defector has been shot and wounded by his own side after he tried to cross the heavily guarded border into the South.

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"He has at least six gunshot wounds on his body and the penetrating wound in the abdomen is the most serious", Lee Cook-Jong told reporters. The next 10 days will be crucial for his recovery, Lee was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency.

"Our military maintains full readiness while strengthening the alert in preparation for the possibility of provocations by the North Korean army", the JCS said.

The DMZ is a 2.5-mile wide, 150-mile-long buffer zone lined with barbed wire and dotted with landmines.

Panmunjomis where an armistice was signed to pause the Korean War. It's also a popular stop for tourists and dignitaries, including several USA presidents.

Violence has broken out in the area in the past.

It's unclear what the soldier's conditions are or why he chose to defect to the South.

South Korean forces have identified him only as "A" and said the man arrived in the country on Friday.

Suzanne DiMaggio, a director at the think tank New America, told Politico that North Korean officials are confused by the United States president's increasingly "erratic behaviour" and "really want to know what his end game is". That prompted Washington to send nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to intimidate the North before the adversaries pulled back from the brink of conflict.

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