Defecting North Korean soldier critical after escape in hail of bullets

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Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff says that at around 1PM on Monday the soldier crossed from a guard post on the northern side of the area and was picked up by South Korean soldiers.

The move is considered highly unusual as even defectors from the North rarely cross directly over the border - usually crossing into China first before heading to Seoul - and South Korea's National Intelligence, army and police have launched a joint investigation. A statement released by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 12 said that Xi had reconfirmed China's position on deploying THAAD in South Korea during his meeting with Moon the previous day.

While his comments seemed to reassure many in South Korea, North Korea's foreign ministry called Trump a "destroyer of the world peace and stability", and said his "reckless remarks" only made the regime more committed to building up its nuclear force.

It said the soldier had been shot by several North Korean soldiers.

Roh said no South Korean or USA soldiers were wounded during the incident and the defense ministry official said North Korea's military was not showing any unusual movements on Tuesday.

No tourists were in the Joint Security Area at the time and there was no exchange of gunfire between the two sides.

This is the fourth defection by a North Korean soldier via the DMZ - one of the world's most heavily guarded strips of land - in the last three years.

The United States has been sending its strategic assets, also including long-range bombers, to the region more frequently for patrols or drills amid accelerating North Korean efforts to expand its nuclear weapons program. "Xi said that South Korea-China relations are at a critical point and that the two countries must respect their key interests and their grave concerns, safeguard reciprocal trust in political affairs and strengthen communication and cooperation", China's Foreign Ministry reported.

It's the third time this year that a North Korean soldier defected. According to South Korean President, trade turnover increased from January to September by 50%.

He added that South Korean troops did not fire at the North. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate North Korea.

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