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North Korean military shoots and wounds its own soldier as he defects to South Korea

A North Korean soldier was found shot and wounded on the south side of the border village of Panmunjom. The soldier was taken to a South Korean hospital and treated for his injuries. (Jeon Heon-Kyun/Getty Images)

The North Korean military shot and wounded a fellow soldier who defected across the Demilitarized Zone to South Korea, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement Monday.

The injured soldier left his guard post in front of Panmungak, on the heavily guarded border inside the DMZ, and moved toward Freedom House on the South Korean side, CNN reported.

North Korea and South Korea have been in a technical war since the conflict of 1950-53 ended with an armistice. There was no peace treaty.

What's the story?

South Korean guards, who were alerted by gunshots, found the North Korean soldier about 55 yards south of Panmunjom, the New York Times reported. Panmunjom is a village situated on the borders of North and South Korea.

The soldier, who was wounded in the elbow and shoulder, was taken to a South Korean hospital and treated for his injuries.

“The defector was urgently transferred to a hospital in a helicopter of the United Nations Command, and there was no exchange of fire with our side,” a South Korean defense ministry official told Reuters

It's rare for defectors to cross between the two Korean borders because of its strong military presence. The 2.5-mile-wide DMZ is heavily guarded by minefields, sentry posts, and tall fences topped with barbed wire, some electrified.

The defector's rank was not immediately clear.

How many North Koreans defect annually?

About 1,000 North Koreans defect to South Korea each year. The majority of defectors travel through China to defect to South Korea, according to Reuters.

It's the third time this year that a North Korean soldier defected. CNN reported that two other military members fled separately in June to South Korea.

From 2012 to 2016, only four North Korean troops are known to have defected to South Korea.

Denuclearization of North Korea

North Korea this year is boosting its nuclear and missile capacity. It has conducted a series of tests with the last being on Sept. 3.

Trump is at the end of his 12-day tour to Asia where he's meeting with leaders and addressing the denuclearization of North Korea

North Korea has not launched any missiles since it fired over Japan on Sept. 15.

American arrested in North Korea

Separately on Monday, a 58-year-old man from Louisiana was arrested Monday when he entered a controlled area in Yeoncheon County on the North Korea border.

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