Seoul: N. Koreans fired 40 shots at defector, hit him with 5

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An elite North Korean soldier stationed at the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone made a bold bolt for freedom Monday, defecting to South Korea despite getting shot twice, the South's military said.

"A North Korean soldier defected from a guard post on the North Korean side of the JSA toward our side at 3:31 p.m.", according to a military official. The North's drills are expected to run from December to April, according to the South Korean military.

But when a wheel came loose, he fled on foot as four North Korean soldiers fired about 40 rounds at him, said Suh Wook, chief director of operations at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefing lawmakers.

This month, the North demanded that South Korea return 12 waitresses it said had been kidnapped while working in China in 2016.

"Currently, the North Korean troops are conducting ordinary field exercises".

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While on average more than 1,000 North Koreans defect to the South every year, most travel via China and it is unusual for a North Korean to cross the land border dividing the two Koreas, which have been in a technical state of war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

The hospital will brief media on the soldier's condition at 0630 GMT, she said, without providing details.

Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that Kim had insulted him by calling him "old" and said he would never call the North Korean leader "short and fat".

North Korean government officials told CNN's Will Ripley in Pyongyang last week that the United States was increasingly taking action that could "ignite another Korean War".

Panmunjomis where an armistice was signed to pause the Korean War.

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The Joint Security Area was the site of some bloodshed during the Cold War but there hasn't been major violence there in recent years.

American presidents often visit Panmunjom and other DMZ areas during their trips to South Korea to reaffirm their security commitment to the South. Trump planned to visit the DMZ to underscore his stance against North Korea's nuclear program when he came to South Korea last week as part of an Asian tour, but his plans were thwarted by heavy fog that prevented his helicopter from landing at the border area.

From there they can seek sanctuary and organise a flight to South Korea, where defectors are given assistance and prepared for life outside the hermit state.

Monday was the first time since 2007 a North Korean soldier had defected across the JSA.

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.

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