North Korean defector 'shot five times' while fleeing across border

South Korean officials have said the soldier is in a critical condition, but is expected to survive

North Korean defector 'shot five times' while fleeing across border

South Korean soldiers stand guard, facing a North Korean guard, in the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Picture by: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

A North Korean soldier looking to defect to the South was shot five times during his escape, officials have said.

It is reported that the soldier made the crossing at the Panmunjom peace village at the Joint Security Area - the heavily guarded section of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) where troops from the North & South face each other.

According to Reuters, the defecting soldier approached the border in a vehicle, but was forced to complete the perilous crossing on foot after a wheel came loose.

North Korean soldiers are then believed to have fired around 40 rounds in a bid to stop him.

He is said to have been hit five times - twice in the shoulder, twice in the abdomen and once in his thigh.

South Korean soldiers crawled towards the soldier after the incident.

They managed to find the soldier and drag him over to the South Korean side, before evacuating him to hospital.

While he is in a critical condition, the solider is expected to survive the ordeal.

In comments quoted by The Korea Times, Suh Wook - Chief Director of Operations with South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff - explained to lawmakers: "The hospital will decide on whether to conduct additional surgery after seeing how he recovers over the next two to three days."

Tens of thousands of North Koreans have defected to the South since the Korean War, with most fleeing through China as opposed to the well-guarded DMZ.