South Korean Soldiers Shoot Man Defecting to the North

According to reports on September 16, South Korean sentries shot and killed a South Korean man who was trying to cross the Imjin River into North Korea. The 47-year-old man had a passport in his possession, along with packages of food and a styrofoam float to cross the 800 meter-wide section of the river. Reportedly, the man had applied for refugee asylum in Japan in June of this year, the application was denied.

News reports on September 17th stated that thirty Korean sentries fired their rifles at the man as he was crossing the river, firing “hundreds” of bullets. When the body was picked up by a South Korean boat as it floated in the river, soldiers confirmed that the man was dead, attributing it to two bullet holes. This is the first time since 1990 that South Korean border guards have killed a South Korean trying to cross into the North.

Article from Yonhap News:

“Military: Man Killed Attempting to Cross Imjin River into North Korea”

Military sources say that a man was shot and killed at 2:23 p.m. on September 16th as he attempted to cross the Imjin River into North Korea. The source explained that the incident happened in Choe-jeon in the northwest region of the city of Paju in Gyeonggi Province, saying, “the man ignored the sentry’s command to return back to the southern side and ran toward the river.”

Map of the location of the shooting along the Imjin River.

Map of the location of the shooting along the Imjin River.

Comments from Daum:


The man could have been a spy, I think shooting to kill was the right choice.


Of course he had to shoot!


If he was trying to go over to the North then you have to shoot to kill. The soldier who shot him is lucky, he will probably get a promotion and can go on leave.


It’s too bad they didn’t bring him back to Jeolla Province and shoot them all together


It’s like a movie. The timing was better even than in Hollywood. Couldn’t have been better, it’s giving me goosebumps


Whether he was a spy or not, the soldier did well. 100% chance that guy was connected to North Korea


Was the guy insane? It’s kind of weird… If he had gone to China then he could have just crossed over from that side without any problem. Why did he try to cross at the DMZ, with its strict border controls?


and now it’s just more fodder for the pathetic National Intelligence Service…it’s just sad~~


So it’s a strong message that we are willing to shoot and kill jongpuk commies. This is political control through fear, plain and simple.


[In English] Good shot!


Wait, was it Lee Seok-ki? [the South Korean lawmaker at the center of plan to start a pro-North Korean revolution]


Ah, here is some good news. They should give that soldier a medal. This is restoring our country’s sense of national security. Let’s round up all the red spies


Did he have to shoot to kill?


It’s been a long time since we heard about an attempt to cross to the north. If we are shooting people who try to cross the border to the other Korea, then what can we say when North Korea does the same thing?


Must have been one of Lee Seok-ki’s friends… He could have been a spy returning to North Korea, of course you’ve got to shoot


There’s a high probability he was part of some commie revolutionary organization [in Korean, the acronym “RO”]


Really? It wasn’t a North Korean trying to come to the South?


They’re beginning to dig them out of their holes, they must be getting scared ke ke ke


The news alert came out less than an hour after the shooting happened ke ke ke and it was at the same time as the report on the end of the negotiations about the NIS surveillance, hmm, what does that mean?

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  • chucky3176

    This man must have been crazy. All he had to do was to fly over to China and throw himself in front of the North Korean embassy. China likes to hand Koreans over to their blood allies.

    Next time I suggest one thing to South Korean government. They should declare if anyone wants to immigrate to North Korea, they can do so through the DMZ. The door is wide open for anyone who wants to go, and that no one will stop them.

    Then the other people who still insist on trying to breach the DMZ borders, should be considered spies and be shot.

  • lasolitaria

    They probably did him a favor.

    P.S.: go ahead, thumb me down to death.

  • Bomne

    Maybe he was a spy.

  • linette lee

    You wonder if the South korea gov’t ever tried to assist North korean refugees with military power to get across the border entering into South korea. Like make it easier for them to escape into the South. They are starving to death. They will have some ugly combat at the border but help them escape across. Remove the land mines. So they let in a few north korean spies or maybe suicidal bombers that is just the risk you have to take to let in thousands refugees. You want these refugees to escape into China just to be returned back to north and get killed? What to do? China is not going to antagonize North and will just go along with them returning their refugees. China don’t want a hostile North korea neighbor at their border. The North is bluffing anyway. They don’t have enough military power or money to sustain long term battle at the border with the south and the south has US military to back them up.

    • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

      They can’t risk turning the way, which is still technically going, to go hot again. Not because of the North ‘strong military might’ that’s just a joke, but because what little functioning equipment they have is targeting Seoul right now. The moment the war goes hot, the South’s capital will be a glassed crater, something no one(except maybe the north) wants.

    • chucky3176

      Your statement shows how much ignorance you have on this subject. Before you embarrass yourself any further, I suggest you stop writing on this.

    • commander

      I dont see what you are getting at.

      • linette lee

        I am bullshxting that is what I am getting at. Just like some people like to bullshxt all the time blame their north refugees crisis on China. Holding China responsible to save their people risk damaging china-north korea peaceful relationship. If China hand over all the refugees to south against north korea north will be hostile and they are right next door. China wants friendly neighbors.
        You think China really cares where the refugees end up at in south or north.

        You want your people go get it. You folks have the money and the military power now. You don’t want north to fly some missiles to Seoul neither does Beijing want to be threatened and bomb by missiles. Leave China out of it. China has too much internal problems and need to focus on improving. They are too busy to get involve with the dispute of other people.

        • commander

          I think there is misunderstanding with criticism from South Korea and the international community of China for returning North Korean escapees in its territory, based on a bilateral Beijing-Pyonyang treaty, to North Korea.

          The real problem is that the scope of human rights is in expansion so that predictable inhumane punishment repatriated escapees face in North Korea draws international criticism.

          China is currently a signatory to a 1961 refugee treaty in which any forcible deportation, repatration of a refugee to a country where degrading treatment wait for them is comepeltely banned but China doesnt grant Nortg Korean defectors a refugee status claiming that they just flee economic harship in its communist ally.

          Thus condemnation centers on China’s repatriation of those North Koreans in defiance of increasingly expansive fundamental human rights.

          Of course, South Korean and the rest of international community see a do-or-die escape as humanitarian issues but North Korea considers it as linked to its regime survival and regard possible inaction by China to send them back as signs of unraveling ties with its main economic benefactor.

          It’s the context where disagreement over handling North Korean evacuees emerges between South Korea on one hand and North Korea and China on the other.

          In addition, you claim that South Korea step in to help North Korean defectors get into Seoul if Seoul really hope so is unfeasible as China will not allow such a kind of infringement to its terriyorial soverignty.

          My prejection is that the defection issue hardly has a clear cut solution thus mutual grieviances and enmity between both sides will linger for the time being.

          • linette lee

            So you do understand that there is a treaty between China and north korea that they will return all their people if caught inside China, so why force China into such difficult situation risking peace? The south and human rights group call them refugees, china and nK call them illegal economic migrants.
            And as we are speaking there are still thousands north koreans entering into China seeking refuge and it will not stop anytime soon. . Not until 90% of north korea population empty out and get out of kim’s dictatorship. They all want to get out. How is it possible for China to be held responsible to help relocate 20 millions north koreans into South korea without aggravating fat Kim? Fat Kim will have a cardiac and start pressing button. And China really hasn’t make much extreme effort to repatriate them. They estimate currently a few hundred thousands nk inside China now, and China so far only repatriated a few thousands. Most of the time China just rather turn a blind eye to avoid the issue, as well as understanding these nk people will be tortured and killed.
            SK all they do is blame the issue on China but yet they don’t put this refugee crisis as their priority a serious problem to fix. They have the money and the military power to deal with it. Do it. NK is all bluffing no power and starving. They are at your border. Use your economic power and trading. Work out a treaty or else.

          • commander

            First, China has capacity to block illegal entry of North Koreans into its territory if it really wants to avoid all hassles. Such a move is an internationally recognized soveign right.

            Second, China sends North Korean defectors forcibly back to North Korea citing its bilateral treaty with North Korea and claiming that those people are not refugees in its view.

            Lamentably, many observers call it absurd because those returnees obviously face the harshest punishment in the world just for seeking freedom and better life. International law, albeit at a slow pace, is shifting toward a ban on such a move in the name of universial and inalienable human rights.

            Third, for South Korea, North Korean refugees are one of top policy priorities but there are few available effective means to help them for South Korea because Seoul is well aware of China’s intrangience in handling those North Koreans.

            Fourth, China’s rise offers vast economic opportunities for neighboring countries but it also provokes fears from them as China grows overbearing and arrogant asserting sovereignty over all of South China Sea and manipulating ancient history to galvanize the exaggerated glory of Sino civilization among the Chinese that get more discontent with prevalent corruption in the top echelon on the central and provincial levels and suppressed freedom of speech.

            Fifth, your saying is like that “We are stronger than you so try everything to stop us.” This kind of attitude will prod most of its neighboring countries to harbor anti Chinese sentimenet, rely more on the United States–an outlook where China will face more backlash and resistance in resolving issues of Taiwan, a kind of North Korean for South Korea, and addressing territorial disputes on South China Sea.

          • linette lee

            The border into Jilin and Liaoning provinces is already heavily guarded. In the recent years China also put more effort to increase security. They may not be able to block 100% NK from crossing into China, but recent years there are less. So what you want china to do? Spend big money to increase military across the whole border and shoot down any Nk crossing over?
            Also another very big problem is human trafficking is also involved. The main clients are those old Chinese citizens of Korean descent. So these women marry into the korean community inside China and blend in. If they are caught they will get deported. There is no telling what is the actual number of nk refugees inside China, they blend in. So China needs to crack down on human trafficking organizations.

            The day China stop repatriate nk refugees is the day china break ally with North korea.
            No one want to see refugees starve and torture.

          • commander

            China get angry when Taiwan seek to buy defense arms from the United States and Washington step up defense cooperation with Taiwan, calling Taiwan as an aircraft carieer that can be used as an outpost in the event of a war with China.

            No one criticize China for sticking to its alliance treaty with North Korea. But the ramifications, knowinglt or unwittingly, from forcible repatriation of North korean escapees–torture and forced hard labor or death–are the butt of condemnation China should face up to as a result of its diplomatic course.

          • linette lee

            Taiwan will never be in war with China. Don’t be silly. Taiwan will never assist USA to attack China or allow it be used as outpost for the American to attack mother China.
            Taiwan and China have political disagreements but nothing aggressive or threaten war. Just like Hk gov’t and China gov’t have political conflicts but hk people and hk gov’t were never oppressed by the China gov’t. China thinks Taiwan is part of China just like hk is part of China, and Taiwan and Hk have their own gov’t system.

          • commander

            A forcible annexation of Taiwan by China will certainly pushes Taiwan, if pro independent forces stay in power, to seek American assistance.

            Such a kind of skimish already took place in the early 1990s.

            Many gloomy scenarios on future Sino-US ties forecast that an armed conflict, if occurs, will arise over Taiwan between the United States and China.

            And American military strategists see Taiwan as a bulwark against a gorwing wave of China’s influence towaed South China Sea.

            To borrow your previous words on North Korean refugees, Beijing needs to use its leverage and clout to lay claim to Taiwan as part of its territory.

          • linette lee

            There is no issues between China and Taiwan.

  • linette lee

    And the refugees who successfully made into the south let them live at a camp or something for 5 or 6 years to re-educate them and under supervision or something. A win win situation for the refugees and south korea. They increase their population and the refugees get educated so they can make an easier transition into the south korea society.
    Why not?

  • YourSupremeCommander

    Oh shit!!! Dennis Rodman is dead?

    • MeCampbell30

      Sadly no.

  • YourSupremeCommander

    “hundred” of shots fired and only two hit him.
    LMAO at the skills of the SK armed forces.

    • Brett

      It’s not like we’re talking about trained snipers… These are high school graduates with automatic guns here..

      • chucky3176

        According to Korean news, they fired more warning shots over his head, to get him to stop swimming. Failing that, they had to take him down. The guy just kept swimming, I think this was suicide because he had psychotic mental issues. If this was North Korea, there would have been no warning shots.

      • x1sfg

        Read terriblemovie’s post, it’s pretty accurate. Even a high school graduate with basic training can pick off someone swimming even ~200m away if they had a semi-auto and not a weapon used more in squad tactics for suppressive fire.

        Try firing full auto sometime. There’s a reason why auto is mostly used in CQB or in suppressive fire. There’s a reason why the US uses semi-auto with the exception of the guy designated to carry the light machinegun. It’s more accurate and it wastes less ammo.

    • Sillian

      There was no sniping. They used submachine guns from hundreds of meters away. The target becomes a moving dot.

    • commander

      The amount of bullets fired in a war in a comparison of death toll may prove that a 2 out of 100 record is not that bad.

    • terriblemovie

      Very ignorant statement on your part. Most of the shots were warning shots as per South Korean military protocol. Heres what happened-

      1. Crazy guy jumps into the Imjin river.
      2. South Korean sentries detect him and warn him on loud speakers to turn back.
      3. He refuses and continues to swim North.
      4. Sentries fire warning shots and tell him to return or he will be shot.
      5. He refuses yet again.
      6. Sentries shoot to kill.

      They killed him with k2 and K3 light machine gun. Neither guns are sniper rifles. The K3 is a rapid fire(750 rounds per minute) machine gun designed to mow down swarms of invading North Koreans. Not particularly accurate over long distances but perfect against large groups. Ten guys with K2 and K3’s could easily expend hundreds of round by merely holding the trigger for 2 seconds.

    • linette lee

      And isn’t that sad?
      Why the netizens don’t mind killing him if he is a north korean? He is their brother. They should be sad that they had to kill him and wish for peace to come soon. Why the north and south don’t mind to kill each other their own family? It should be painful if they had to do it. All they talk about is to kill the north korean he is a spy blablabla…

      • A Gawd Dang Mongolian

        It might have been a mercy. If he wasn’t a spy, he wouldn’t know his way around the minefields planted across the DMZ and die a slow painful death bleeding out in some field on the north side.

        If he knew where the minefields were and successfully avoid them, he’ll have to face the North Korean border guards who most likely would have arrested and interrogated him. By interrogate I mean pummel mercilessly.

        If neither of those happened to him, then he was a spy.

  • vonskippy

    100’s of shots, 2 hits – goes to show you Koreans should be playing CoD and MoH not League of Legends and Starcraft.

    • commander

      Distance from a moving target, weather conditions in the day–factors, among others, that need to be considered in assessmemt of shooting skills.

    • chucky3176

      Look at it this way. An average North Korean private probably never fired a shot in his life. In North Korea, bullets are more precious than a chicken, a grenade is more precious than a pig. All that war footage that North Korea sends out to the world? They are just film footages that were filmed over 20 to 30 years ago. And at that time, they had to spend a ton of money to create the films. Now a days, North Korea can’t even afford to do that. Also, since then, North Korea’s military tactics haven’t changed with the same old familiar scenarios of North Korean special forces causing havoc in the South Korean rear before the North Korean frontal onslaught. But the truth is, the North Korean high leadership will not allow their ranking men to invade South Korea. Because as soon as the starving army of North Koreans enter the South and have one look at what they’ve never imagined before in their lives, they’ll either drop their rifles refusing to fight, or shoot their commanders and turn around sides. Already, North Korean soldiers in the border areas have been heavily effected by South Korean propaganda fliers with parcels attached to air balloons, while many secretly listen to South Korean broadcasts. The doubts and disbelief by North Korean soldiers are being slowly eroded by each broadcasts, and each parcels that they receive from the South. It’s questionable how many of them will even fight if there’s a war.

      Here’s a very entertaining and very informative interview of two former high ranking North Korean soldiers who defected to South Korea, talking about all of the above. They’re telling us that North Korean leadership already know they cannot possibly win, and that North Korea is just a paper tiger whose only real weapon against South Korea is planting of fear, confusion, and division through infightings. The best counter to North Korea’s threats is to not show them any fear, and be tough on them by smashing them to pieces if they ever pull off another small attack they did three years ago, when NK pulled off a surprise naval attack and the NK shelling a South Korean island.

    • x1sfg

      You should try firing a light machine gun, which is used in suppressive fire and not targeting individuals instead of playing CoD and MoH

    • kpopwillneverstop

      Oh please, you probably can’t even shoot a bird down with a BB gun.

    • Dave Park

      Shooting that terrorist on your TV screen, with your controller that is in no shape or form akin to a real gun, is not the same as shooting a real person. Let’s try not to confuse real life with a video game.

  • Hffjj

    its ok for south korea to kill their defector but not ok for the north to do the same?

    • Sillian

      Do you know we are talking about the DMZ here?

    • jon777

      At the DMZ it’s ok for both.

  • commander

    The death in a rain of bullets fired by South Korean soldiers is quite rare as almost no South Koreans have tried to get across a river into North Korea, especially when a route through China into North Korea is open safely to those who really want to get into the Stalinist nation.

    Many North Koreans have fled the suppressive rule and dire starvations in Pyonyang to South Korea. Although they are struggling to make a living finding adaptation to the capitialist society hard, I think they believe they never want to return to the police state.

    In contrast, the defection in the other direction is unusual as all South Koreans are well aware of ordeal for North Korean residents in the hermatic country

    A military unit commander said that the shooting followed a firing rule when a man was trying to swim across not responding to verbal warnings from military guards.

    What remains unexplained is if his motive is a defection to North Korea, why did he daringly try to pass through the DMZ in broad daylight though he can get through China into North Korea?

    I think the focus should be on his motivation.

    • lasolitaria

      Awww… dude, you’re a riot! *giggles*

  • markus peg

    This comment is true

    Was the guy insane? It’s kind of weird… If he had gone to China
    then he could have just crossed over from that side without any problem.
    Why did he try to cross at the DMZ, with its strict border controls?

    I think its a shame they had to kill him to stop him, if they could somehow have got to him before he got far they would be able to question him about why he was trying to cross and learn more about the reasons which may or may not have been significant. though of course he had to be stopped somehow, but i doubt a spy would have been as stupid as to cross the DMZ boarder.

  • bultak23

    Why anyone would choose to live under Kim Jong Un beats me… He is worse than King Zhou of Shang.
    제신같은 김정은의북한에 왜 살고싶어요?

  • Timeless Love

    When North Koreans die trying to cross to South Korea, North Korea is condemned. Yet, South Koreans shooting their own defectors is praised. Not that I support North Korea. I just hate hypocrisy

    • chucky3176

      What’s hypocritic about it? If anyone wants to leave S.Korea, they can do so by getting a passport and a visa to somewhere else and leave. Such luxuries are not afforded to North Koreans who have one of the worst human rights record in the world.

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