North Korean Soldier Shot By Comrades Along DMZ While Defecting To South

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South Korean Soldiers stand guard on the South Korean side of the military demarcation line separating North and South Korea Aug. 16, with two standing partially behind the buildings to reduce their silhouettes, should they be shot at.
Army photo by Spc. Jeremy Reuse

A defecting North Korean soldier was shot by his comrades on Nov. 13 after he abandoned his post and ran across the Demilitarized Zone, one of the most heavily armed borders in the world, Stars and Stripes reports.


The soldier crossed through the Joint Security Area, which is the only point along the 150-mile long DMZ where North Korean and South Korean soldiers stand face-to-face. Despite his wounds, the defector managed to escape the North and was discovered 55 yards south of the border line.

Defections very rarely occur in the the area; South Korean officials told Stars and Stripes that the last successful defection happened in 2007.

Most defectors attempting to reach the South travel through China; however, in recent years, several North Korean soldiers have managed to make it across the DMZ, often under harrowing circumstances. In 2012, for example, a soldier made it to the South after murdering his superiors, according to The New York Times.     

The most recent North Korean military defector, who was shot in the shoulder and elbow, was airlifted to a hospital by a United Nations Command helicopter. He was found bleeding by South Korean soldiers after gunfire was heard. According to Stripes, the soldier was unarmed and “wearing a combat uniform indicating a low rank.”

Upwards of 30,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the 1953 armistice brought the Korean War to a halt. The two countries are still technically at war, and South Korean forces are bolstered by about 28,000 U.S. service members currently stationed in the country.

No gunfire was exchanged between South Korean and North Korean troops on Nov. 13. However, the South Korean military has raised its alert level and, according to Stripes, “is maintaining a full readiness posture against the possibility of provocations from North Korea.”

The JSA, a popular tourist destination and the site of recent visits by defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence, has erupted in violence in the past. In 1984, soldiers on both sides were killed and wounded after a Soviet tourist attempted to defect through the area. And in 1976, two American soldiers were killed there by North Korean soldiers armed with axes.

Tensions on the peninsula have escalated in recent months as President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un have repeatedly lobbed insults at each other. Trump has been touring Asia over the past week in a bid to rally regional powers, including China, against Pyongyang’s efforts to develop a nuclear arsenal.

The latest salvo in the war of words occurred over the weekend, when Jong-un described Trump as a “lunatic old men.” Trump responded via Twitter, writing, “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend — and maybe someday that will happen!”

An Austrian Jagdkommando K9 unit conducts training (Austrian Armed Forces photo)

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Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Photo: ABC News/screenshot

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The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.

"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."

Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.

"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."

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