Shot North Korean defector suffered massive internal injuries - surgeon

The soldier fled through the heavily armed border between North and South Korea More

North Korea's United Nations ambassador, Ja Song Nam, said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres that the joint military exercises with South Korea are creating "the worst ever situation prevailing in and around the Korean peninsula".

"A North Korean soldier defected from a guard post on the North Korean side of the JSA toward our side at 3:31 p.m.", according to a military official.

The Unification Ministry said North Korean soldiers also defected across the JSA in 2007 and 1998, but military officials said no shooting occurred during those incidents.

South Korean military said there was no armed conflict after the incident, but they are "increasing alertness" for a possible provocation from North Korea.

"The military is maintaining a full readiness", the Joint Chiefs of Staff statement said.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Kumsong Tractor Factory in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, but most travel through China.

North Korea warned Monday that the unprecedented deployment of three US aircraft carrier groups "taking up a strike posture" around the Korean peninsula is making it impossible to predict when nuclear war will break out.

The solider was found beneath a pile of leaves on the southern side of the JSA and South Korean troops crawled there to recover him.

Panmunjom, once an obscure farming village inside the 2 1/2-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone that separates the two Koreas, is where an armistice was signed to pause the Korean War.

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It marks the first massive joint drills since Seoul and Washington agreed last month to enhance rotational deployments of US strategic assets to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have been sharply escalating in recent months with both sides indicating that they will not hesitate to engage in military action.

Although there have been a handful of defections across the DMZ in recent years, escapes through the tense Joint Security Area are rare.

The trip will come just a week after US President Donald Trump visited Beijing as part of a lengthy Asia tour, where he pressed for greater action to rein in North Korea, especially from China, with which North Korea does 90 percent of its trade.

Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, was photographed by North Korean soldiers while he stood inside one of the huts during a visit to the DMZ in March. The attack prompted Washington to fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate North Korea.

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