News / Asia

N. Korean Soldier Shoots Officers Before Defecting

A view of Ki Jong Dong, North Korea, is seen from Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone, the tense military border between the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, South Korea, March 25, 2012.
A view of Ki Jong Dong, North Korea, is seen from Observation Post Ouellette in the Demilitarized Zone, the tense military border between the two Koreas, in Panmunjom, South Korea, March 25, 2012.
In what is apparently the first such incident in nearly two-and-half years, a North Korean soldier has defected across the heavily armed land border with the South.

South Korean military officials say a soldier from the North claims he shot and killed his platoon and squad chiefs while on guard duty before defecting across the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone.

The incident occurred at noon Saturday along the western section of the DMZ.

Officials say South Korean troops at the border heard gunshots, confirmed the North Korean soldier's desire to defect, and escorted him to a guard post. He is now undergoing interrogation.

The senior analyst in Seoul for the International Crisis Group, Daniel Pinkston, says there is no indication the defection denotes any instability in the reclusive and impoverished state.

“We'll see as he's debriefed and it's just a one-off incident, so I don't think there's too much we can read into it besides that at this point,” he said.

Pinkston points out that soldiers in North Korea's army posted to the border area are scrupulously vetted.

“Those who are stationed in the border area, around the DMZ and especially right on the DMZ, are those who are considered to be loyal to the regime. They've been screened and they do not put people there who would be considered disloyal,” he said.

Defections by North Koreans along the DMZ are rare. The last known incident involving a soldier occurred in March, 2010.

Under North Korea's collective punishment system, a disloyal act of this magnitude would mean harsh treatment for the soldier's family, extending for three generations.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul says South Korea has increased surveillance along the DMZ following the incident and  the military has activated its crisis management facility. However, there is no sign of any unusual activity on the northern side.

The DMZ is a legacy of the 1953 armistice which brought a three-year civil war to a halt. But the two Koreas have never signed a peace treaty.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid