North Korean soldier defects to the South at Joint Security Area: JCS

Donald Trump in Asia

Donald Trump in Asia

The move is considered highly unusual as even defectors from the North rarely cross directly over the border - usually crossing into China first before heading to Seoul - and South Korea's National Intelligence, army and police have launched a joint investigation. Internal organ damage is so severe that it will take two or three days to find out whether he can survive an operation.

The soldier was shot and injured by his own military as he crossed to the South Korean side of the Joint Security Area in the village of Panmunjom.

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

The leaders of South Korea and China on Saturday reaffirmed their joint efforts to peacefully resolve North Korea's nuclear problem in a summit highlighting the recent normalization of bilateral ties estranged by the deployment of a USA missile defense system in South Korea.

The incident, which happened in broad daylight around 4:00pm, comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula over the North's nuclear weapons programme.

The military armistice commission of the United Nations said in the same UNC statement it had informed the North Korean military that the soldier, who was found about 50 metres (150 feet) south of the Military Demarcation Line, had been undergoing surgeries for his gunshot wounds.

"The military has raised its alertness against the North Korean military's possible provocations and is maintaining its full readiness posture", a military official said, according to Yonhap. A U.N. Command helicopter later transported him to the Ajou medical center, according to South Korean officials.

"His organs are extremely damaged... we do not know how long he can hold up", Lee said, describing the soldier's condition as "very serious".

North Korea this year is boosting its nuclear and missile capacity.

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. The US has around 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate North Korea.

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