North Korea has replaced all guards in the Joint Security Area since one of them fled through a hail of bullets to the South Korean side.

"We detected signs that all of their JSA guards were replaced right after the defection," a government source here said. "It seems that the guards were held accountable."

The North's security detail at the JSA consists of about 35 to 40 guards including officers.

The North also seems to have closed the so-called 72-Hour Bridge -- so named because it was built so fast -- over which the defector drove a jeep to reach the border area without being checked.

"The North seems to be tightening its screening of soldiers coming in and out of the JSA by setting up a lockable gate," a military source here said.

A jeep driven by a North Korean defector passes a bridge in the border area of the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom on Nov. 13, in this grab from a video clip released by the UN Command on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, U.S. Force Korea Commander Vincent Brooks, who heads the UN Command in charge of the JSA, headed to the truce village of Panmunjom on Thursday, where he awarded U.S. Army Commendation Medals to six South Korean and U.S. officers and servicemen for rescuing the defector on Nov. 13.

Brooks decorated them after distributing Thanksgiving food in the cafeteria at Camp Bonifas in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, according to the USFK.

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