SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean soldiers on Monday shot and killed a man they believed was trying to cross into North Korea at the heavily armed border, officials said.
Some details were unclear, but officials at South Korea's Defense Ministry said a man dressed in civilian clothes ignored guards' warnings to return to the South and was shot after he jumped into the Imjin River, which runs through the border. The incident occurred near the western portion of the border in Paju, north of Seoul.
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, citing office rules. They said Nam was born in 1966 but provided no other personal details, including why he was deported.
The man was first seen near a wire fence near the river. Border guards told him to turn back, but he ignored them and went into a part of the river where there was no wire fence, the officials said. It was later found that he had tied buoys around himself and was carrying cookies, officials said.
North Korea's state media made no immediate comment about the shooting. South Koreans have previously tried to defect to the impoverished, authoritarian country, but it is rare.
The Korean Peninsula is still technically in a state of war as the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
More than 25,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea, according to officials in Seoul. Many came south after a famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands.