Topics - DMZ

 
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Serious Incidents on the DMZ
1967-2001

 

Page Index:

  • General Overview Table
  • Deadly 1968

General Overview Table

The following material was found on www.globalsecurity.org.

 
Date Description of Incident Killed in Action Wounded in Action Protested at MAC Meeting
19 Jan 67 NK shore batteries fired on & sank ROKN PCE-56 off the north Korean east coast 39 (ROK) 15 (ROK) 239
22 May 67 NK intruders exploded demolition charges in 2nd Infantry Division barracks 2 (US) 17 (US)
2 (ROK)
249
28 Aug 67 NK armed attack on UNCMAC Advance Camp (76th Engineers) 1 (US)
2 (ROK)
12 (US)
9 (ROK)
254
1968 The year 1968 witnessed 181 serious incidents in and out of the DMZ, making it the most violent year in the history of the Armistice. 17 (US)
145 (ROK)
54 (US)
240 (ROK)
 
21 Jan 68 31 NK armed agents intruded into Seoul in an attempt to assassinate President Park. 29 (NK) 1 (NK) Captured 263
23 Jan 68 NK gun boats seized the USS Pueblo in the Sea of Japan, over 15 nautical miles off the NK coast.  82 crew members released on 23 Dec 68 1 US)   263
14 Apr 68 NK intruders ambushed a UNC JSA security guard truck enroute to JSA 2 (US) 2 (ROK) 266
20 Aug 68 NK agent boat intercepted off Cheju Island 12 (NK) 2 (NK) Captured 277
30 Nov 68 NK landed approximately 120 NK commandos near Samchok, ROK 107 (NK) 2 (NK 282
1969 More than 150 NK agents were killed while attempting to infiltrate into the ROK from the sea 150 (NK)    
15 Mar 69 NK fired upon a UNC work party that finished replacing MDL marker 0022 1 (US) 2 (US)
1 (ROK)
291
15 Apr 69 USN EC-121 recon aircraft was shot down by two NK MiGs 90 miles off the NK east coast 31 (US)   290
5 Jun 70 A ROK Navy "1-2" ship was fired on and sunk by NK naval vessels in the Western Sea. 20 (ROK)   302
7 Mar 73 NK armed attack on UNC work party replacing MDL marker 0654 2 (ROK) 1 (ROK) 337
15 Feb 74 NK naval vessels attacked ROK fishing boats in international waters 12 (ROK)   348
28 Jun 74 Three NK gun-boats attacked and sank a ROK Maritime Police craft (*63) in the Eastern Sea near the MDL-extended 26 (ROK) 2 (ROK) Captured 352
30 Jun 75 NK guards attacked Maj Henderson, acting commander of UNC Joint Security Force in JSA   1 (US) 365
18 Aug 76 NK guards attacked UNC guards during "tree-trimming incident" in the JSA. 2 (US) 4 (US)
4 (ROK)
5 (NK)
379-381
3 May 77 NK intruders attacked ROK Army personnel in the central sector. 1 (ROK) 1 (ROK) 383
14 Jul 77 US Army CH-47 shot down after it accidentally crossed MDL into north near east coast.  (US casualties were returned via Panmunjom several days later.) 3 (US) 1 (US) 385
28 Apr 78 NK agent boat attacked ROK National Police maritime patrol boat. 1 (ROK)
4 (NK)
4 (ROK) 386
21 Jul 78 NK agent boat attacked ROK National Police patrol boatd 2 (ROK)
6 (NK)
1 (ROK) 394
7 Dec 79 US DMZ patrol accidentally crossed MDL and stepped on NK mines.  Body of US soldier returned by NK at 461st MAC Secretaries meeting.  US wounded returned safely to UNC side after incident. 1 (US) 2 (US)
23 Mar 80 Three NK agents infiltrating through the Han River Estuary were killed by ROK defenders. 3 (NK) 400
27 Mar 80 NK intruders fired on ROK Army patrol in Central Sector. 1 (ROK)
1 (NK)
1 (ROK)
1 (NK)
400
21 Jun 80 NK agent boat attacked ROK Navy patrol boat. 9 (NK) 2 (ROK)
1 (NK) captured
402
3-6 Nov 80 NK agents landed on Hoenggan Island killing one ROK civilian and wounding five others before being caught. 3 (NK) 403
1-6 Dec 80 NK agents landed on Namhae Island 3 (ROK)
3 (NK)
3 (ROK) 404
4 Jul 81 NK agent infiltrated through DMZ. 2 (ROK)
1 (NK)
406
15 May 83 NK agents landed on east coast of ROK. 1 (NK) 413
19 Jun 83 NK agents discovered near Munsan in the Western Corridor. 3 (NK) 419
5 Aug 83 NK agents attempted to land near Kimpo on the SE coast. 5 (NK) 421
13 Aug 83 NK agent boat sunk east of Ullung Island in East Sea 5 (NK) 421
3 Dec 83 NK agents landed at Tadaepo beach near Pusan. 3 (NK) 2 (NK) captured 423
23 Nov 84 NK guards fired on a Soviet defector and UNC JSA guards at Panmunjom 1 (ROK)
3 (NK)
1 (US)
1 (NK)
426 & at
474th
20 Oct 85 NK agent boat sunk near Pusan. At least 2 (NK) 430
24 Apr 86 NK armed vessel failed to stop after crossing the MDL extension line in the East Sea.  NK vessel sunk in exchange oof fire. 2 (NK) 4 (NK) 435
21 Nov 87 NK guard fired on ROKA posst in the Central Sector 1 (ROK)
22 May 92 NK armed intruders were intercepted in the central sector of the DMZ.  UNC called 460th MAC meeting, but NK rejected the meeting. 3 (NK) 2 (ROK)
17 Dec 94 U.S. Army OH-58A+ helicopter accidentally strayed across the MDL about 10 km into NK territory and was shot down by NK forces.  Of the crew of two, one was killed; the other was held for 13 days. 1 (US)
17 Oct 95 Infiltration attempt by KPA soldiers near Imjin River.  One infiltrator was killed, one believed to have made his way back to North Korea. 1 (NK)
06 Apr 96 More than 100 North Korean troops entered the northern sector of the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom the day after North Korea announced it had "dismissed" the armistice with the South.  Both ROK and US forces were put on a higher state of alert - Watchcon 2- although there was no change in defense readiness, which was maintained at Defcon 4.  (The CFC reverted to Watchcon 3 several weeks after the April armistice violation.)
16 Jul 97 NK armed intruders were UNK (NK) UNK (NK) intercepted about 100M in the ROK.  Subsequent fire fight took place between two NK and two ROK guard posts.  NK intruders returned north. UNK (NK)
9 Sep 97 NK soldier intruded south into the ROK, threatened a ROK guard, and was shot in self defense. 1 (NK)
17 Oct 97 NK soldiers apprehend two ROK farmers at the MDL, east of Panmunjom.  The NK released the farmers unharmed on 21 Oct.  NK soldier intruded south into the ROK, threatened a ROK guard, and was shot in self defense. 1 (NK)
3 Feb 98 In Panmunjom, a KPA Captain crossed the MDL from KPA GP#2 and surrendered himself at UNC CDP#4.  He expressed his desire to defect to the ROK and remained, depsite KPA protests claiming he was abducted. Daily 3-6 Feb 98
11 Jun 98 The KPA fired 3-4 rounds at UNC GP#247.  One round hit the top of UNC GP#247.  No casualties reported.
22 Jun 98 A North Korean midget submarine was seized after it was spotted entangled in South Korean fishing nets off the South Korean town of Sokcho, south of the DMZ.  When brought to shore three days later, the nine crew aboard were found dead inside from an apparent group suicide. KPA-9 23 June 98 (NOTE: This was the first UNC-KPA meeting in the General Officer Talks (GOT) forum.  30 June 98 3 Jul 98 16 Jul 98
12 Jul 98 A body of a North Korean frogman was found on a beach south of the DMZ, along with paraphernalia suggesting an apparent infiltration/espionage mission. KPA-1
18 Dec 98 In a firefight, the South Korean navy sank a North Korean Improved Semi-Submersible Landing Craft (I-SILC) some 150 kilometers southwest of Pusan.  The body of a North Korean frogman was recovered near the site.  The vessel was first spotted two kilometers off the port city of Yosu. KPA-1 6 Jan 99
4-15 June 99 NK ships provoked a nine-day naval confrontation off ROK's western coast in disputed waters in the Yellow Sea over disputed border known as the Northern Limit Line (NLL).  When the damaged confrontation ended in exchange of fire each blamed the other for starting the firefight. KPA-30-34 ROKN-O
One torpedo boat sunk; 5 naval vessels damaged.
KPA-unknown.
ROKN-9
5 naval vessels damaged.
15 Jun 98
18 Jun 98
22 Jun 98
2 Jul 98
General Officer Talks
26 Sep 00 Two KPA soldiers cross the MDL in vicinity of Tae-Song-Dong.  When challenged by ROK soldiers, one of the KPA soldiers told them their weapons are designed "to kill Americans."  No shots fired. 6 Oct 00
26 Oct 00 Two U.S. aircraft participating in an exercise in the ROK accidentally fly over the DMZ. 28 Oct 00
2-4 Jun 01 Three "commercial" naval vessels from the DPRK cross the Cheju Strait in both an easterly and westerly direction.  The ROK Navy issued verbal warnings not to pass without approval, but the ships captains ignore the warnings.
8 Jun 01 A "commercial" naval vessel from the DPRK crossed the Northern Limit Line (NLL), entered the contiguous waters of the ROK, and passed north to the port of Nampo, despite warnings not to enter the prohibited area.
19 Sep 01 A three-man KPA patrol armed 12 Oct 01 with AK-47 rifles was observed passing through the KPA forward fence line.  A UNC Guard Post (GP) issued two verbal warnings.  The UNC GP fired 24 warning shots.  The KPA soldiers returned to the north.
20 Sep 01 10 KPA soldiers crossed 50 meters south of the MDL.  UNC issued 13 voice warnings and five warning shots.  The KPA retreated to the north. 12 Oct 01
27 Nov 01 North and South Korean troops briefly exchanged fire in the DMZ.  North Korean troops fired three rounds toward a UNC guard post prompting the ROK Army unit to return fire.  One bullet hit and shattered a windowpane of a South Korean bunker that serves as a guard post.  No casualties.
17 Jul 03 At 6:10 A.M. North and South Korean soldiers exchanged machine-gun fire near Yongchon, 35 miles north of Seoul.  The North Koreans fired four 14.6mm rounds from a distance of 1,100 meters of ROKA soldiers who responded with 17 shots from a K-3.  Warning announcements were made on the ROKA loudspeaker.  ROKA soldiers along the DMZ were put on alert.  Three of the four DPRK rounds struck a ROKA guard post.  No ROKA casualties were reported.

 


Deadly 1968

January 17, 1968

In an incident known as the Blue House Raid, a 31-man detachment from the Korean People's Army secretly crossed the DMZ on a mission to kill South Korean President Park Chung-hee, nearly succeeding.  [See January 19 and 21.]

January 19, 1968

Four South Korean brothers out cutting wood stumbled across the unit. Instead of killing the brothers, the North Korean commander sought to indoctrinate them into the communist cause. He then released the four, warning them not to betray the unit’s presence. Unbowed, the brothers immediately notified South Korean authorities, and by the next morning the national police and South Korean military were on full alert. The unit eluded all searchers.

January 21, 1968

Thirty-one armed North Korean agents intruded into Seoul in an attempt to assassinate President Park Chung-Lee.  The raiders came within approximately 800 meters of the presidential residence before they were discovered.  After entering Seoul disguised as South Korean soldiers, the North Koreans attempt to enter the Blue House (the official residence of the President of South Korea). The North Koreans were confronted by South Korean police and a firefight ensued. The North Koreans fled Seoul and individually attempted to cross the DMZ back to North Korea. Of the original group of 31 North Koreans, 28 were killed, one was captured, and two are unaccounted for. Additionally, 26 South Koreans were killed and 66 were wounded, the majority of whom were soldiers and police officers. Three American soldiers were also killed and three were wounded.

January 22, 1968

North Korean infiltrators attacked a U.S. guard post and wounded three U.S. soldiers.

January 23, 1968

The U.S. Navy intelligence ship USS Pueblo was attacked by the Korean People's Navy employing Soviet-built patrol boats and was subsequently boarded and captured, along with its crew, in the Sea of Japan. The entire crew of 83 was captured, with the exception of one sailor, SN Duane D. Hodges, killed in the initial attack on the vessel, and the vessel was taken to a North Korean port. Tortured during their imprisonment, all the captives were released on December 23 of the same year via the Bridge of No Return at the DMZ. The USS Pueblo is still in North Korean possession and docked in Pyongyang on display as a museum ship.

January 24, 1968

Two U.S. soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry were killed by North Korean agents while in a blocking position to trap remnants of a group of North Korean infiltrators who had attempted to assassinate President Park.  Killed were Sgt. Paul W. Martin of Virginia and William L. Bryant of Utah.

January 25, 1968

KPA soldiers mounted raids in the DMZ in an area defended by the U. S. Second Division, killing one U. S. and two South Korean servicemen.

January 26, 1968

A U. S. soldier with the 2nd Battalion, 72nd Armor, was killed by North Korean agents south of the DMZ who were fleeing north following the Blue House Raid and the attempted assassination of ROK President Park.  The American, Salvador T. Mojica, was from California.

February 6, 1968

A U.S. 2nd Infantry Division guard post was attacked. Three North Koreans were killed by U.S. forces.

March 27, 1968

U.S. 2nd Infantry Division and ROK 25th Infantry Division soldiers ambushed North Korean infiltrators. Three North Koreans were killed.

April 12, 1968

Fifteen KPA guards armed with clubs hit UNC Joint Duty Office personnel who were inspecting the perimeter on the northern edge of the MDL in the JSA.

April 14, 1968

A U.S. Army Support Group truck was ambushed south of the Joint Security Area in daylight.  North Korean soldiers stopped the truck and machine-gunned the occupants, killing four and wounding two.  The two Americans killed were Sgt. James Anderson and Larry Wood.  Two KATUSAs were also killed and Leroy Jacks and John Sharpeta were injured.  The North Koreans robbed the bodies of two pistols.  Following is the personal account of 2ID veteran Bruce Abbott, found on the 2ID Association website:

"Later that day I had an opportunity to visit Operations, where the blood-soaked clothing, MP brassards, and other articles of the guys who had been shot were now laid out. We learned that Sgt. Anderson, Larry Wood, and two KATUSAs had been killed, but that Leroy Jacks and John Sharpeta had survived.

Later we were able to talk with Leroy at the hospital. He said that the first sign of trouble was from flashes of light coming from both sides of the road ahead. Shots began striking the truck and Larry Wood, who was sitting up front on the passenger side, was immediately struck in the neck. Sgt. Anderson stopped the truck and got out, his hands raised above his head, but was immediately hit by AK-47 fire and fell back into the seat. Leroy, who was sitting in the middle, was struck in the leg but the engine block prevented other rounds from reaching him. The North Koreans reached the truck and one of them fired a few rounds over the tailgate. John Sharpeta, who had been sitting in the back with the KATUSAS, apparently had already been struck in the neck, had passed out, and was now lying at the base of the tailgate, so those additional shots missed him. However, the two KATUSA were killed.

Leroy said that at this point one of the North Koreans reached into the front seat area and relieved him of his still-holstered Colt 45 pistol, while he tried to play dead. The intruders then withdrew, but not before throwing a hand grenade at the side of the truck as a parting shot. Shortly after, Leroy heard the Jeep speed by."

April 20, 1968

An armed North Korean enemy attacked one of five patrols on this date.  Gary C. Gable provided the following information about this incident.  Following his description of the incident is the citation of his Army Commendation.

"Sergeant Bowman was the patrol leader. They had set up an ambush about a 100 meters from the MDL. The other four patrols were all within a few hundred meters of each other for support when necessary. It was our second night out in the DMZ. Nothing happened till morning. Just after daybreak Sergeant Bowman's patrol was attacked. He had moved away from his ambush position to go to the bathroom, just a few meters away. He took a rifleman with him. As they moved away from the ambush position they surprised a group of North Koreans crawling through the grass. He estimated up to 25 North Koreans. Bowman was armed with a 12 gauge shotgun with buckshot. He managed to get one shot off, killing a North Korean. Sergeant Bowman was wounded while the rifleman and rest of patrol returned fire. They managed to make it back to the patrol's position.

The patrol I was with was approximately 400 meters west of Bowman. We double-timed towards his position as they were under intense fire. We had to cross an open area and while doing so came under fire from a machine gun north of the MDL, probably 300 hundred meters away. We made it to the tree line before the machine gun had us in range. Sergeant Bowman's ambush position was a good defensive position consisting of overgrown rice paddy dikes and the berm from a railroad that ran, they say "Pusan to Paris." The Korean War-bombed locomotive was about 200 hundred meters to our rear. Shortly after arriving at Bowman's position the North Korean rushed us, by then I had all five patrols in position. I don't think they expected an entire platoon to be in position. They quickly pulled back.

Meanwhile GP Gladys came under fire. Gladys was about 1/2 mile to our west. We were still under sporadic fire and probing attacks. We were running low on Ammo. The Quick Reaction Force [QRF] was reacting to what now appears to have been a diversion in B Company's sector. Our CO, Captain Beers was back at the compound rounding up anyone who could carry a rifle. The units on the DMZ were spread thin. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Flukas, the officer in charge of the GP, was making his way to our position with a couple of men and extra ammo. He left the GP before it came under fire.

My recollection is that the fighting lasted till about noon, some say longer, others shorter.  Regardless, it was one hell of a morning. We were extremely fortunate with one wounded. I credit the low number of casualties to Sergeant Bowman's selection of a good defensive position. Also the men in the platoon for putting down such intense fire. Enemy casualties unknown, but they had to suffer a few. We were ordered to withdraw when Captain Beers showed up. We did recover one ppsh-41 submachine gun. Being so close to the MDL, we could not go out to the front of our position. To this day I believe the North Koreans were attempting to overrun Sergeant Bowman's position and drag survivors back across the MDL. At that time of the attack the North Koreans were holding the crew of the USS Pueblo. Sergeant Bowman was awarded an ACM for valor and the Purple Heart.

Some key issues:

  • We were armed with M-14's not M-16's.
  • We could not carry the M-60 machine gun into the DMZ as per the 1953 Armistice.
  • We could not call for mortar or artillery support.  You could request it, but it would be refused.
  • No copters allowed in DMZ to remove wounded.
  • Each patrol consisted of 6-7 men

    ------------

Department of the Army, HQ, 2D Infantry Division
General Orders No. 107, 2 May 1968

Citation: Army Commendation Medal with "V" device

Second Lieutenant Gage distinguished himself by superb leadership and courageous action on 20 April 1968, while serving with Company C, 2d Battalion, 23d Infantry, 2d Infantry Division.  On this date he was the officer in charge of five patrols in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.  A radio message from one of his patrol leaders informed him that an armed enemy had attacked a patrol, the patrol leader was wounded, and the patrol was trapped in a poor position.  Lieutenant Gage immediately informed his parent unit and directed his remaining patrols to positions of support for the patrol under attack.  He deployed his patrols on line and controlled their fire in a manner that enabled them to inflict casualties and gain fire superiority in a short period of time.  By his skillful deployment of his patrols, he forced the hostile force to retreat and enabled the trapped patrols to regain a secure position.  Lieutenant Gage's heroic action in the face of enemy provocation is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 2d Infantry Division, and the United States Army.

April 21, 1968

Five North Koreans were killed and 15 North Koreans were wounded by U.S. forces when they clashed in the southern portion of the DMZ.  Also killed was South Dakota veteran Robert R. Bisbee.

May 2, 1968

One KPA security guard knocked down an unarmed UNC guard near a MAC conference room.

July 3, 1968

A U.S. 2nd Infantry Division patrol was ambushed in the DMZ.

July 20, 1968

North Korean infiltrators ambushed a U.S. 2nd Infantry Division patrol in the DMZ, killing 2Lt. James Leland Weeks, son of Col. Eugene Leland Weeks and Mrs. Mildred Polk Weeks.  He had only been in the Army for six months and was leading his first patrol in Korea when he was killed only nine days after arriving for duty in Korea.  Also killed was American serviceman Jan S. Holmdahl.

July 30, 1968

U.S. 2nd Infantry Division patrol was ambushed in the DMZ by North Korean infiltrators.  One U.S. serviceman, Michael Rymarczuk, was killed.

August 5, 1968

U.S. 2nd Infantry Division patrol was ambushed one mile south of Panmunjom near the DMZ in daylight. One North Korean was killed by U.S. forces.  Also killed was Terrance A. Peterson, a member of 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry.

August 18, 1968

Two U.S. servicemen, Jerry L. Hopkins of Texas and SSgt. Joseph A. Bass, were killed when their patrol clashed with North Korean infiltrators south of the DMZ.

August 20, 1968

A North Korean agent boat was intercepted off Cheju Island.  There were 12 North Koreans killed and two North Koreans captured.

August 26, 1968

KPA guards dragged a UNC Security Officer off a UNC jeep and attacked him near KPA Guard Post No. 5 in the JSA.

September 2, 1968

Some 15-20 North Korean workers assaulted U.S. officers in the JSA after they attempted to return a dropped hat to a North Korean guard.

September 19, 1968

Four North Koreans were killed by U.S. forces.

September 27, 1968

A U.S. 2nd Infantry Division jeep was ambushed in the DMZ and two Americans were killed.  They were SP4 Joseph E. Cayer Jr. and Pfc. Michael B. Raymond.

October 3, 1968

One North Korean was killed by U.S. forces.

October 5, 1968

A U.S. 2nd Infantry Division patrol was ambushed in the DMZ.  SP4 Stephen A. Nassani was killed and two others were wounded when their patrol was ambushed by North Koreans in the DMZ.

October 11, 1968

A U.S. 2nd Infantry Division patrol ambushed North Korean Army infiltrators in the DMZ. 2 North Koreans were killed by U.S. forces.

October 18, 1968

A U. S. vehicle was attacked and four were killed.

October 23, 1968

A U.S. 2nd Infantry Division patrol engaged KPA infiltrators in the DMZ.  One North Korean was killed by U.S. forces.  Pfc. David L. Turner was killed and five others of the 2nd Battalion, 38th Infantry were wounded in a DMZ firefight with North Koreans.

October 30, 1968

Ulchin-Samcheok (Gangwon-do) landings by 120 men of North Korean Army Unit 124 took place.  There were 110 killed; seven were captured; and three escaped. Forty South Korean soldiers and police officers and 23 South Korean civilians were killed.  This was an unsuccessful attempt of the North Koreans to establish guerilla camps in the Taebaek Mountains.

November 2, 1968

From October 30 to November 2, 1968, 120 to 130 North Korean Unit 124 commandos landed on the northeast shore of South Korea, allegedly to establish a base in order to wage a guerrilla war against the South Korean government. A total of 110 to 113 were killed, seven were captured, and 13 escaped. Around 20 South Korean civilians, law enforcement officers, and soldiers were killed.

November 30, 1968

The North Koreans landed approximately 120 North Korean commandos near Samchok, Republic of Korea.  Two of the commandos were captured and 107 of them were killed.

December 1, 1968

One UNC officer and one enlisted member were attacked and beaten by at least 15 KPA security guards in the JSA.


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