North Korean Soldiers Cross South Korea’s Border for Third Time in Month

For the third time in less than two weeks, North Korean soldiers briefly crossed into South Korea on June 20, prompting South Korean troops to fire warning shots.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korean troops doing construction work in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea crossed the Military Demarcation Line in the middle of the DMZ at about 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 20.

South Korean troops immediately broadcast warnings over the loudspeakers and fired warning shots, prompting the soldiers to return to their side of the demarcation line.

Hundreds of North Korean troops have been working on construction projects on the North’s side of the DMZ since the spring. Overgrown plants and trees in the area have likely obscured the signs marking the Military Demarcation Line, making it easy for the soldiers to lose their way and inadvertently cross into South Korea’s side without realizing it, Seoul said.

Similar incidents occurred on June 9 and June 18. All three instances appeared to be unintentional. The soldiers who crossed to the South Korean side were carrying construction tools.

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the soldiers who crossed on June 21 soon returned to the construction project and worked into the night.

An official with the Joint Chiefs said similar incidents were likely to happen as the North Korean troops continued to carry out activities in several locations in the Demilitarized Zone.

According to South Korean officials, the North appears to be installing additional anti-tank barriers, as well as reinforcing roads and laying additional land mines.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff believe that the added measures are intended to prevent North Korean citizens from attempting to defect to South Korea.

The Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea is the world’s most heavily guarded border. In addition to combat troops, the DMZ is also protected by roughly 2 million mines, as well as tank traps and barbed wire fencing.