SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean soldiers shot and killed a man who was trying to cross a river border into North Korea on Monday, the Defense Ministry said.
The man, wearing civilian clothes, jumped into the Imjin River where the river meets the western end of the border between the two Koreas before emptying into the Yellow Sea, a ministry spokesman said.
The man ignored warnings from South Korean border guards to turn around, the spokesman said.
The man’s South Korean passport identified him as Nam Young-ho, who was deported from Japan in June, according to Defense Ministry officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
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The shooting comes as North and South Korea reopened the jointly run Kaseong industrial complex today, five months after it was shuttered amid the North’s threats of a pre-emptive nuclear attack.
Citizens from North and South Korea, which remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, aren’t allowed to travel to the other side without approval.
The border between the two countries is heavily mined and guarded by layers of barbed-wire fences and hundreds of thousands of soldiers on each side.
More than 25,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea, according to officials in Seoul. But nearly all who have defected to the South since a famine hit their country in the 1990s have come through China.
In 2009, a South Korean civilian sneaked past border guards to defect to the North. And in September 2012, a North Korean civilian defected by swimming across the Imjin and crawling through a military fence on the border west of Seoul. The following month, two North Korean soldiers defected, one of them after killing two of his officers. Last month, an unarmed North Korean defected to a South Korean island where the Imjin joins the Yellow Sea.
Includes material from The Associated Press