On Monday, when a North Korean soldier slipped into South Korea in the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the Demilitarized Zone four of his comrades opened fire, reports The Daily Caller.
“…four of his comrades let loose a barrage of bullets, firing roughly 40 rounds at the man. He was hit five times before he collapsed in a pile of leaves on the southern side. The soldier was airlifted to a South Korean medical facility, where he remains in critical condition.”
While South Korea is doing everything they can to save the wounded soldier, Seoul is disturbed by the incident.
“The North Korean troops who attempted to gun down the defector did so with assault rifles, specifically AK-47s. ‘This is a violation of the armistice agreement,’ a South Korean military official told the Korea JoongAng Daily, adding, ‘We plan to lodge a serious protest against North Korea through the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission,’ reports The Daily Caller.”
The armistice only allows handguns to be present in the JSA. Additionally, North Korea may have fired into South Korea, which would also be a violation of the agreement put in place after the Korean War. It is worrisome that North Korean guards were carrying much heavier firepower than South Korean guards.
However, this is not the first time that the armistice has been violated. In 2011, the North had, according to the South Korean defense ministry, violated the armistice 221 times. Included in this is 26 military attacks, notably one sinking the Cheonan, a South Korean warship.
“Weapons restrictions do not really matter to North Korea, which has also tested ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons numerous times, violating multiple United Nations resolutions prohibiting such behavior.”
This incident has raised many questions for South Korea. Seoul has no authority to change the rule of engagement that prohibited their soldiers from firing back at the North Korean soldiers.
It’s been suggested that the South should have fired “warning shots.” However, the military considers personal safety and the threat of escalation when forming responses.