South Korea warns North not to repeat armistice violation

PANMUNJOM, South Korea (Reuters) - North Korea violated an armistice agreement with South Korea this month when North Korean soldiers shot and wounded a North Korean soldier as he defected across their border and it must not do so again, South Korea's defense minister said on Monday.

The defector, a North Korean soldier identified only by his surname, Oh, was critically wounded but has been recovering in hospital in South Korea.

The incident comes at a time of heightened tension between North Korea and the international community over its nuclear weapons program, but the North has not publicly responded to the defection at the sensitive border.

South Korean Minister of Defence Song Young-moo issued his warning to the North while on a visit to the border where he commended South Korean soldiers at a Joint Security Area (JSA), in the so-called Truce Village of Panmunjom, in the demilitarized zone, for rescuing the defector.

RELATED: North Korean soldier's defection across the DMZ

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North Korean soldier's defection across the DMZ
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North Korean soldier's defection across the DMZ
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier crossing the white Military Demarcation Line during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier crossing the white Military Demarcation Line during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
REFILE- QUALITY REPEAT A CCTV footage shows the heat signatures of a North Korean soldier (centre L) lying injured on the ground after he was shot while crossing into South Korea, as South Korean soldiers (centre R) approach him; during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of a North Korean soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
A surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, is seen during a press briefing by the United Nations Command at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A CCTV footage shows a vehicle carrying a North Korean soldier during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier running from a vehicle during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier running during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A North Korean guard post (C) in the border county of Kaepoong is seen from a South Korean observation post in Paju near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas on November 14, 2017. A North Korean soldier involved in an extremely rare and dramatic defection to the South was shot six times by his own side as he drove to the heavily guarded border and ran across under a hail of bullets. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, is seen during a press briefing by the United Nations Command at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
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A North Korean border guard briefly crossed the border with the South in the chase for the defector on Nov. 13 - a video released by the U.N. Command (UNC) in Seoul showed - a violation of the ceasefire accord between North and South at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

"Shooting towards the South at a defecting person, that's a violation of the armistice agreement," Song said.

"Crossing the military demarcation line, a violation. Carrying automatic rifles (in the JSA), another violation," he added as he stood near where South Korean soldiers had found Oh, collapsed and bleeding from his wounds.

"North Korea should be informed this sort of thing should never occur again."

Since the defection, North Korea has reportedly replaced guards stationed there. Soldiers have fortified a section of the area seen aimed at blocking any more defections by digging a trench and planting trees.

As Song was speaking 10 meters away from the trees North Korean soldiers planted, four North Korean soldiers were spotted listening closely.

South Korean military officials pointed out two bullet holes in a metal wall on a South Korean building, from North Korean shots fired at Oh as he ran.

Oh has undergone several operations in hospital to remove bullets. His lead surgeon, Lee Cook-jong, told Reuters his patient has suffers from nightmares about being returned to the North.

In South Korea, six soldiers, three South Korean and three American, were given awards by the U.S. Forces Korea last week in recognition for their efforts in rescuing the defector.

After inspecting the site on Monday, Song met troops stationed there for lunch and praised them for acting 'promptly and appropriately'.

South Korea has been broadcasting news of the soldier's defection towards North Korea via loudspeakers, according to the South's Yonhap news agency.

South Korean military officials have declined to confirm that.

(Reporting by Do-gyun Kim; Writing by Christine Kim; Editing by Soyoung Kim, Robert Birsel)

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