Defection: Soldiers replaced in N. Korea, honoured in S. Korea

This article is more than 12 months old

SEOUL: North Korea has reportedly replaced guards and fortified a section of its border with South Korea where a North Korean soldier staged a daring defection last week, while South Korean and US soldiers have been decorated for their role in his rescue.

The North Korean defector was shot and wounded by his fellow soldiers as he dashed into the South Korean side of the Joint Security Area (JSA) last week.

The South Korean and US soldiers who led a rescue attempt to drag the gravely injured soldier to safety were awarded medals on Thursday, according to US Forces Korea.

A group of senior diplomats based in Seoul visited the JSA on Wednesday morning where they saw five North Korean workers digging a deep trench in the area where the soldier had dashed across the line after getting his jeep stuck in a small ditch, a member of the diplomatic delegation said.

According to an intelligence official cited by South Korea's Yonhap news agency, the North has replaced the 35 to 40 soldiers it had guarding the JSA at the time of the incident.

Two new trees had also been planted in the small space between the ditch and the line with the South, the diplomat said, in an apparent effort to make it more difficult for would-be defectors to drive across the ground.

Meanwhile, in South Korea, US Forces Korea said it had awarded its own JSA soldiers - three South Koreans and three Americans - the Army Commendation medal in recognition of their efforts in rescuing the defector.