But it's rare for a North Korean soldier to defect via the Joint Security Area, where border guards of the rival Koreas stand facing each other just meters (feet) away, and be shot by fellow North Korean soldiers.
The incident, which happened in broad daylight around 4 pm, comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula over the North's nuclear weapons programme.
Pyongyang's drills are expected to begin in December and are likely to proceed till April, while the South Korean military keeps a close watch on all the developments in the region.
It was the first shooting in the Joint Security Area since 1984, but US and South Korean forces did not return fire.
A North Korean soldier was fighting for his life Tuesday in a South Korean hospital as new details emerged from his brazen dash for freedom across the Demilitarized Zone.
Surgeons had removed five bullets from the soldier's body, leaving two inside, Suh added, to murmurs from lawmakers who said the soldier's escape was "right out of a movie".
The four-day simulated exercises, which will go on until Tuesday, 14 November, will include participation from South Korean naval forces as well.
He also referenced Trump's September speech to the U.N. General Assembly in which the president said that if the U.S.is "forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea".
South Korean military said there was no armed conflict after the incident, but they are "increasing alertness" for a possible provocation from North Korea.
The 1953 armistice that ended the fighting but left the countries technically at war was signed in one of the blue buildings that straddle the Military Demarcation Line.
Trump tried to make a surprise visit to the DMZ last week, but his helicopter was forced to turn back to Seoul after heavy fog prevented it from landing at the frontier.
North Korea has in the past complained that North Korean defectors had been abducted by South Korea, and it has demanded their release.
The presence of three U.S. aircraft carriers off the Korean Peninsula is pushing the region closer to nuclear war, according to a North Korean letter to the United Nations secretary-general, CNN reports.
The ambassador said the United States had reactivated round-the-clock sorties by B-52 strategic bombers and was making frequent flights of B-1B and B-2 bombers in the air space of South Korea.
Two American soldiers also were killed in the DMZ by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers in a 1976 brawl over an attempt to trim a poplar tree.
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