By Aishwarya Rai, International News Editor
On November 13, a North Korean soldier was shot whilst defection via the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), according to South Korea’s Military. The solider was shot in the elbow and shoulder by his own military, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The soldier was in a critical condition after the events and was given the required emergency medical attention in the South. The Ministry of Defense in the region reported to CNN that more than 40 bullets were fired at the defector, out of which five hit him.
Defectors tend to take alternate routes avoiding the DMZ, given its high security measures. According to BBC, approximately 1,000 people flee from North Korea to South Korea every year. In the past three years, this is just the fourth defection by a North Korean soldier through the DMZ, and according to Yonhap News, the third since the end of the cold war through the Joint Security Area and Panmunjom, which is the only area in the DMZ where North and South Korean forces stand directly opposite each other.
However, South Korea has seen a drop in defectors from the North. The number dropped by 13% this year compared with 2016, according to BBC. Defectors tend to abscond through China, given its long border with North Korea. The drop has been attributed to higher border security reinforcements and increased government surveillance by North Korea and China.
According to statistics from Seoul, since the end of the Korean War in 1953, more than 30,000 North Koreans have defected to the South.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 21st print edition.
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