Korean soldier drove vehicle before defecting to S. Korea: UNC

A South Korean soldier stands guard as a North Korean flag flutters on top of a tower at the propaganda village

A South Korean soldier stands guard as a North Korean flag flutters on top of a tower at the propaganda village

In this September 28, 2017, photo, a North Korean flag flutters in the wind atop a 160-meter (525-foot) tower in the North's Kijong-dong village near the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, South Korea.

The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) confirmed that the North Korean man approached the JSA by vehicle at around 3:15 p.m. Monday. The soldier was airlifted by a United Nations Command helicopter to a hospital for treatment after arriving in South Korea, the military said. In 1998, a North Korean solider fled to South Korea via Panmunjom.

The defector is now in South Korean military custody, according to the statement.

The defection through the JSA marks a very rare case, given that North Korean soldiers stationed on the frontline are reportedly cherry-picked for their loyalty to the North Korean regime.

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.

The official said the South's soldiers heard a gunshot and then retrieved the unarmed and bleeding soldier in the mid-afternoon.

Military officials from the two sides have used Panmunjom frequently in the past for talks.

US President Donald Trump says Kim Jong Un's North Korea is a
REUTERS US President Donald Trump says Kim Jong Un's North Korea is a"hell that no person deserves

Suh Wook, chief director of operations for the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that North Korea fired a total of about 40 rounds in a shooting that his office suggested started while the soldier was in the jeep.

In this November 14, 2017, photo, a visitor looks at a map of North Korean town at the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea. Jointly controlled by the American-led U.N. Command and North Korea, the DMZ is guarded on both sides by hundreds of thousands of combat-ready troops, razor-wire fences and tank traps.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, but most travel through China.

"Our military has raised the alert level in anticipation of North Korean provocation".

There was no report of any exchange of fire between the two Koreas.

Two North Korean soldiers came over to the South in June after crossing the frontier.

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