Man Killed Trying to Defect to N.Korea

A man in his 40s was shot and killed by South Korean border guards while attempting cross the border into North Korea on Monday.

The guards spotted the man trying to swim across the Tanpocheon Stream, a tributary to the river, near the demilitarized zone in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. They shouted warnings and then shot and killed him when he didn not stop.

A Defense Ministry official said, "Two border guards on sentry duty saw a man trying to climb over the barbed-wire fence near the Tanpocheon. They shouted several times to stop him, but he ignored them and climbed over the fence."

"When soldiers ran after him, he fled and jumped into the river," the ministry official said. "Although the soldiers warned him several times to stop and return, he ignored them, and the soldiers shot him dead."

When his body was recovered it had styrofoam tied to it in an attempt to improve buoyancy. Some cookies and other food were found among his belongings. A passport identified him as a 47-year-old man surnamed Nam and included a record that he was deported from Japan in June.

The Army is investigating what exactly happened.

"It happened in a frontline area. Anybody who ignores guards' warnings and flees is considered an enemy," an Army officer said. "I believe the soldiers did what they were supposed to do according to rules."

It is rare for South Korean border guards to shoot dead a person trying to defect to the North. In most cases such attempts go undetected, and some North Korean soldiers have walked for miles across no-man’s land without being spotted.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 17, 2013 09:34 KST