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Military under fire for loose border defense

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Published : 2014-07-08 21:48
Updated : 2014-07-08 21:48

The South Korean military came under fire again for loose border defense after it confirmed Tuesday that several North Korean soldiers had crossed the border, pushed a defection bell and run away last month.

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that at around 2:20 p.m. on June 19, two to three North Korean soldiers crossed the military demarcation line, pressed the defection bell attached to the barbed wire, and took away a sign post designed to encourage defections.

The barbed wire that the North Koreans reached was just 700 meters away from a South Korean frontline guard post. Critics argued that North Korean troops could have launched an ambush from the short distance.

The JCS defended itself, saying that there were no signs of infiltration past the barbed wire.

“During the summer, North Korea conducts drills for overland infiltrations in various spots within the Demilitarized Zone. North Korean soldiers, on many occasions, have come close to our guard posts to test their nerves. This time also, they seemed to have approached the GP (guard post) to test their nerves,” said a military official, declining to be named.

The incident was revealed during a parliamentary session on Monday, in which Rep. Han Ki-ho of the ruling Saenuri Party took issue with the flawed border defense.

Reports said that North Korean troops walked across the MDL into South Korean territory several times this year, as the communist state was increasing the intensity of its border defense drills.

Meanwhile, the Army team investigating the June 21 shooting rampage has sought an arrest warrant for a first lieutenant, surnamed Kang, on charges of having fled while his soldiers confronted a violent sergeant firing at fellow troops.

The charges against him include negligence of his duty for combat preparations. Kang claimed that he left of his unit to inform the authorities of the shooting and ask for help.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)

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