North Korean Agent Who Fled Gunfight Shot
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ A North Korean agent who had evaded capture for 2 1/2 days since a deadly shootout with police was shot during another gunfight Friday morning.
A military spokesman said the man had been hit by three bullets and was wounded in the head and legs. He was taken to a military hospital, where he was initially declared dead.
But officials later said further checks had found signs of life. He was flown to Seoul for treatment and was reported to be in a coma with no signs of brain activity.
The clash occurred on the remote, thickly wooded mountain that 20,000 troops cordoned off Tuesday and had searched repeatedly since then. Commando teams were tightening the cordon when gunfire erupted.
South Korean security agents, working on a tip, tried to arrest two men Tuesday. In a shootout two hours later, one was shot in the leg and captured and the other fled, reportedly armed with a pistol. One police officer was killed and two wounded.
The earlier captured agent was identified as Kim Do Shik, 33. Police acting on his confession found a radio transmitter and several code sheets Wednesday, hidden in a park south of Seoul.
Kim identified his fugitive compatriot as Park Kwang Nam, 31. He said they were sent to take back to the North a spy who was planted 10 years ago.
Police did not say whether they obtained the spy’s name or location.
The search involved helicopters, dogs and a high-tech device used to identify all living creatures in a 2.5-mile radius.
It was the communist North’s deepest known penetration of its capitalist rival in more than a decade and the second cross-border incident in a week.
An infiltrator was killed near the border on Oct. 24, and officials said they believed two others fled back to the North. The North, which called that incident a fabrication, has not commented on the latest shootout.
Both incidents were certain to hurt already-tense inter-Korea relations. The Koreas are still technically at war; they signed no peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
South Korea said the incursion makes it even more suspicious of its communist rival and said it would strengthen security measures on the peninsula.
``We are shocked and alarmed by this anachronistic provocation that came at a time we have pursued reconciliation and cooperation with the North,″ the Unification Board, a government agency in charge of relations with the North, said in a statement Friday.
``The incident proves that the North Korean slogans of peace and reconciliation are nothing but deceitful propaganda,″ it said. ``We will not sit and watch as a similar incident happens again.″
South Koreans have become so accustomed to tensions that the incursion has been overshadowed by a snowballing political scandal in which a former president admitted keeping millions of dollars in slush funds.
U.S. and South Korean officials have warned for months that North Korea might provoke incursions or border incidents to underscore its claim that the 1953 Korean armistice is no longer in effect.
The North is demanding a peace treaty directly negotiated with the United States, which would effectively snub South Korea. The United States has rejected the demand.
As part of its efforts to dismantle the armistice setup, North Korea expelled neutral armistice observers from Poland and Czechoslovakia earlier this year. China, which signed the armistice, withdrew its delegation at the North’s request.
The last known penetration by North Korean spies came in 1984, when an agent killed or injured three South Koreans before committing suicide in Taegu, 180 miles south of Seoul.
Though the two Koreas speak the same language, it is believed to be quite difficult for North Korean spies _ who have been raised in a closed, tightly controlled society _ to go unnoticed for long in South Korea.