North Korean soldiers violated the armistice agreement between North and South Korea as they fired across the line that divides the two countries in pursuit of a defector last week, the UN says.
The United Nations Command in South Korea played dramatic security footage of the soldier’s brazen defection across the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) at a news conference on Wednesday. It showed the soldier running across the border as North Korean soldiers shot at him and South Korean troops later crawling to rescue him.
As well as firing across the border, one North Korea soldier crossed the military demarcation line (MDL) — another violation of the armistice that paused the Korean War in 1953 — said Col. Chad Carroll, US Forces Korea public affairs director. A peace treaty formally ending the war has never been signed.
Carroll said that the UN Command had notified the North Korean People’s Army of the violations via regular communication channels and requested a meeting to discuss the results of the UN investigation into the incident as well as measures to prevent future such violations.
“The armistice agreement was challenged, but it remains in place,” Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the American who leads the UN Command.
The 24-year-old soldier, surnamed Oh, has regained consciousness and is undergoing further treatment,the hospital treating him said Wednesday. He’s been listening to K-pop group Girls Generation and watching US and South Korean TV shows, the hospital said.
Oh, whose rank has not been revealed, is the third member of the North Korean armed forces to defect this year although it’s the first time the UN Command has released video footage of a defection, a spokesperson said.
According to a document from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, North Korea has been accused of violating the armistice thousands of times since 1953.