South Korean man shot dead in failed attempt to cross river to North

A photo taken on July 16, 2013 shows a North Korean propaganda village of Jangdan-myeon on the edge of the Imjingang river seen from the Odu Mountain Unification Observatory in Paju, South Korea.

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) — A South Korean man was shot dead on Monday while attempting to cross over a river along the border with the North, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

As the unidentified man, believed to be in his 40s, tried to cross the Imjin River near the western border in Paju, north of Seoul, at around 2:23 p.m., soldiers fired off warning shots and told him to return to the South. When he disobeyed the order and jumped into the river, an Army corporal shot him dead, military officials said.

"He jumped into the river and was holding onto the buoy at the time of shooting," a senior official of the Joint Chiefs said. "His body has been retrieved from the water, and a special team was formed to investigate the incident."

An investigation is currently under way to determine the man's identity and his motive for the border crossing, officials said.

The Imjin River, which flows from North Korea into the Yellow Sea off the west coast, joins the downstream of the Han River that runs through Seoul.

More than 25,000 North Koreans have defected to the South in search of a better life, especially following the famine in late 1990s, but there have been few cases in the past decade of a South Korean seeking to enter the impoverished neighbor.

The two Koreas remain technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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