SEOUL – South Korean troops shot and killed a man who tried to cross to North Korea on Monday by floating across a river at the countries’ heavily fortified border, officials said.
The man jumped into the Imjin River about 2:20 p.m. Monday and was clinging to a buoy, South Korean military officials said. Troops fired warning shots and called out to the man to turn back before shooting him, they said.
The two Koreas technically remain at war, as the 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
[Updated 3:56 p.m. PDT, Sept. 16: News of the shooting came as operations resumed at an industrial complex jointly run by North and South Korea after a five-month hiatus triggered by soaring tensions.
Following weeks of negotiations, about 90 of the 123 South Korean companies with factories at the Kaesong industrial park began trial operations Monday, according to the country’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs. More than 800 South Korean managers and some 32,000 North Korean workers reported for duty at Kaesong, just north of the demilitarized zone, the ministry said.]
Thousands of North Koreans have defected to South Korea in search of a better life, especially since the famine in the late 1990s. But there have been few cases reported of South Koreans seeking to enter North Korea.
South Korean authorities were trying to confirm the identity of the dead man and his reasons for trying to cross.
"His body has been retrieved from the water, and a special team was formed to investigate the incident, " a senior official with the Joint Chiefs of Staff told South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
The man was carrying a South Korean passport identifying him as Nam Young-ho, a 47-year-old who was deported from Japan in June, officials said. But authorities had yet to confirm the authenticity of the passport and whether it belonged to the man killed.
The shooting happened near Imjingak park, a peace-themed resort in the city of Paju, northwest of Seoul.
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