Serious Incidents on the DMZ
- General Overview Table
- Deadly 1968
General Overview Table
The following material was found on www.globalsecurity.org.
||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
|22 May 67
||NK intruders exploded demolition charges in 2nd Infantry Division barracks
|28 Aug 67
||NK armed attack on UNCMAC Advance Camp (76th Engineers)
||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.
|21 Jan 68
||31 NK armed agents intruded into Seoul in an attempt to assassinate
||1 (NK) Captured
|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
|14 Apr 68
||NK intruders ambushed a UNC JSA security guard truck enroute to JSA
|20 Aug 68
||NK agent boat intercepted off Cheju Island
||2 (NK) Captured
|30 Nov 68
||NK landed approximately 120 NK commandos near Samchok, ROK
||More than 150 NK agents were killed while attempting to infiltrate into the
ROK from the sea
|15 Mar 69
||NK fired upon a UNC work party that finished replacing MDL marker 0022
|15 Apr 69
||USN EC-121 recon aircraft was shot down by two NK MiGs 90 miles off the NK
|5 Jun 70
||A ROK Navy "1-2" ship was fired on and sunk by NK naval vessels in the
|7 Mar 73
||NK armed attack on UNC work party replacing MDL marker 0654
|15 Feb 74
||NK naval vessels attacked ROK fishing boats in international waters
|28 Jun 74
||Three NK gun-boats attacked and sank a ROK Maritime Police craft (*63) in
the Eastern Sea near the MDL-extended
||2 (ROK) Captured
|30 Jun 75
||NK guards attacked Maj Henderson, acting commander of UNC Joint Security
Force in JSA
|18 Aug 76
||NK guards attacked UNC guards during "tree-trimming incident" in the JSA.
|3 May 77
||NK intruders attacked ROK Army personnel in the central sector.
|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.)
|28 Apr 78
||NK agent boat attacked ROK National Police maritime patrol boat.
|21 Jul 78
||NK agent boat attacked ROK National Police patrol boatd
|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.
|23 Mar 80
||Three NK agents infiltrating through the Han River Estuary were killed by
|27 Mar 80
||NK intruders fired on ROK Army patrol in Central Sector.
|21 Jun 80
||NK agent boat attacked ROK Navy patrol boat.
1 (NK) captured
|3-6 Nov 80
||NK agents landed on Hoenggan Island killing one ROK civilian and wounding
five others before being caught.
|1-6 Dec 80
||NK agents landed on Namhae Island
|4 Jul 81
||NK agent infiltrated through DMZ.
|15 May 83
||NK agents landed on east coast of ROK.
|19 Jun 83
||NK agents discovered near Munsan in the Western Corridor.
|5 Aug 83
||NK agents attempted to land near Kimpo on the SE coast.
|13 Aug 83
||NK agent boat sunk east of Ullung Island in East Sea
|3 Dec 83
||NK agents landed at Tadaepo beach near Pusan.
||2 (NK) captured
|23 Nov 84
||NK guards fired on a Soviet defector and UNC JSA guards at Panmunjom
|426 & at
|20 Oct 85
||NK agent boat sunk near Pusan.
||At least 2 (NK)
|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.
|21 Nov 87
||NK guard fired on ROKA posst in the Central Sector
|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.
|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.
|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.
|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
|9 Sep 97
||NK soldier intruded south into the ROK, threatened a ROK guard, and was shot
in self defense.
|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.
|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.
||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.
|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.
||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
One torpedo boat sunk; 5 naval vessels damaged.
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
|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.
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.