North Korea has fortified its border with the South at what appears to be the location where one of its soldiers made a dramatic bid for freedom earlier this month.
Yonhap News Agency cited an unnamed intelligence source saying there were “signs” the North had replaced its entire security force of 35 to 40 men at the Joint Security Area (JSA), but South Korea’s Defence Ministry and the US-led United Nations Command could not confirm the swap.
The source also told Yonhap the North seems to have temporarily closed a bridge over which the defector drove a military jeep to reach the border before his dramatic escape on foot last Monday. Security camera footage released by the UN command last week showed the soldier, who is known only by his surname Oh, get out of the vehicle after getting it stuck in a shallow ditch.He then runs across the border in the Joint Security Area (JSA) as his compatriots shoot at him from behind. The soldier, who was shot five times, collapses in a pile of leaves near a wall, before being dragged to safety by South Korean forces.
Oh is currently in a stable condition after undergoing operations to treat his wounds and remove parasitic worms, according to Lee Cook-jong, a surgeon at Ajou University hospital south of Seoul.
The source said the North could be preparing to install a security gate at the bridge for strengthening its screening of personnel coming in and out of the area.
Earlier, both the South Korean military and US forces in Korea explained that they could not confirm Kim’s statement. The status of the soldiers is unclear.
The regime has also placed more machine guns in the area.South Korean military officials will question Oh as soon as he has recovered from his injuries.