A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea through the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the Demilitarized Zone, Monday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The wounded soldier required emergency evacuation, the statement said, after defecting from a North Korean guard post at the Joint Security Area (JSA) on the heavily-guarded border between the two countries. In 2014, another USA citizen was arrested by South Korean soldiers for allegedly trying to swim across a river to North Korea. It wasn't immediately known how serious the soldier's injuries were or why he chose to defect.
More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled their homeland since the two nations came into being in 1948.
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.
The JCS said that the South Korean Army has increased its alert level in anticipation of possible North Korean provocations.
"He should know that he is just a disgusting criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people", it added. It is located inside the 4-kilometer-wide (2 1/2-mile-wide) Demilitarized Zone, which forms the de facto border between the Koreas since the Korean War.
Russian Parliament passes law to introduce foreign agent status for media outlets
Amnesty International has warned the law will allow the Russian authorities "to tighten their stranglehold on press freedom". He added that the government will "use the opportunities offered by the bill for a timely quid pro quo response".
North Korean soldiers stand on steps overlooking the border village of Panmunjom, North Korea, in 2013..
No tourists were in the Joint Security Area at the time because such tours do not run on Monday, said a spokesperson for United States Forces Korea which approves the visits.
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.
Two North Korean soldiers came over to the South in June after crossing the frontier. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate North Korea.
The Korean Peninsula remains technically at war because the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
In 1984, North Korean and U.N. Command soldiers traded gunfire after a Soviet citizen defected by sprinting to the South Korean sector of the truce village.