Lee Boong-woo, spokesman for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the North Korean soldier appeared in a driveway on the South Korean side of the armistice line. He showed his intention to surrender and is being interrogated.
“The soldier, while on watch at the North Korean guard post, allegedly killed a platoon leader and a squad commander before defecting,” Lee said.
South Korean military officials were quoted as saying that North Korean troops were observed removing two bodies from the guard post.
The South Korean military heightened security in the area, but officials said they had seen no abnormal movements on the north side.
North and South Korean guard posts are within about a third of a mile of each other at the point where the soldier crossed; each is 820 feet from the military line of demarcation.
The line of demarcation bisects the Demilitarized Zone, which cuts across the Korean peninsula. A creation of a 1953 armistice that ended the fighting, the DMZ serves as a buffer between the two Koreas, which are still technically at war.
North Koreans for decades have used various means to cross to the South, and the number of defectors is now estimated to be about 25,000. Iit is rare for a soldier to cross in the DMZ; the last known case was in March 2010.
Photo: South Korean soldiers stand guard at a traffic control gate in the heavily armed demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas. Credit: Bae Jung-hyun / Yonhap