Only days ago, President Donald Trump visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea during his historic twelve-day trip through Asia. Thus, what was found at the DMZ over the weekend is quite chilling. A bloody body was discovered, and we are just now learning more surrounding the scary “coincidence.”
On Monday, a member of the North Korean military attempted to defect to South Korea and was subsequently shot by his former comrades. His defection is the third by a member of the North Korean military this year, following two soldiers who fled to South Korea separately in June.
A North Korean soldier was shot by his former comrades while defecting to South Korea across the demilitarized zone, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement Monday.
The wounded soldier was evacuated from the site for emergency medical attention, 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.
The soldier is reported to have left the North Korean guard post in front of Panmungak, on the border inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and proceeded to move towards Freedom House on the South Korean side. [Source: CNN]
This is the same border which was visited by Defense Secretary James Mattis less than one month ago. Standing just yards away from North Korea, where increasingly hostile dictator Kim Jong-un has been firing off test missiles as though they are fireworks, Mattis said that the U.S. and South Korea are committed to a “diplomatic solution” to address the country’s “reckless behavior.”
“North Korean provocations continue to threaten regional and world peace and despite unanimous condemnation by the United Nations’ Security Council they still proceed,” said Mattis during his visit to the DMZ that divides North and South Korea last month.
Facing away from North Korea, Mattis referenced the words of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, saying that “our goal is not war, but rather the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
With the recent activity from American leaders at the Korean DMZ, Monday’s defection may have been more than just a coincidence. Even Robert Kelly, an associate professor at the Department of Political Science at Pusan National University, called it “genuinely surprising.”
“It’s fairly unusual, I can’t think of the last time [a defector was shot at],” said Kelly, adding that “it certainly adds to the tensions.” Prior to 2017, there had only been four military defectors from North Korea over the past five years: one in 2016, one in 2015 and two in 2012, according to CBS News.
This wasn’t the only action within the DMZ, either. In a bizarre twist, Monday’s defection from North Korea came as an American man was arrested in South Korea apparently attempting to go in the other direction.
According to South Korea’s Ministry of Defense, a 58-year-old man from Louisiana entered a controlled area in Yeoncheon County, on the border with North Korea, early Monday morning. The man was reported to police by local residents and arrested.
While South Korea’s intelligence services investigate the case of this clearly insane American man trying to enter North Korea, the defector from the rogue regime is currently in South Korean military custody. “Our military has raised the alert level in anticipation of North Korean provocation. The military is maintaining a full readiness,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
With more than 1.2 million active soldiers and a further 7.7 million in reserves, the North Korean military is one of the largest ground forces in the world. However, the Hermit Kingdom’s other resources pale in comparison to those of their adversaries around the globe. America and her allies are certainly ready to take them on if and when the time comes.