North Korean border guards abducted two South Korean farmers today inside the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, the United Nations said.
The U.N. command said 12 armed North Korean soldiers crossed into the southern half of the buffer zone, seized a man and woman in a rice field and took them back to the northern side.
The abduction was an apparent violation of the armistice that halted fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War, the U.N. command said.
South Korea demanded that the North return the two "immediately and safely," Defense Ministry spokesman Kang June Kwon said.
The command said U.N. officials met with North Korean military officers near the border village of Panmunjom in an attempt to obtain the release but the meeting ended without result.
The command said there had been no gunfire. A battalion of mostly U.S. troops is stationed in the area but was not put on heightened alert.