Seoul: China said on Monday it had lodged a protest with Pyongyang after media reports said a North Korean army deserter killed four Chinese nationals during a robbery in the Chinese border city of Helong late last month.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing in Beijing that China "would handle the matter in accordance with the law".
South Korea`s Yonhap News Agency reported the deserter was detained by Chinese authorities just north of the Tumen River that divides China and North Korea. The 521-km long river in the far north is a popular breakout route used by defectors fleeing the secretive state.
The incident involving the armed North Korean occurred on Dec. 28, the report quoted unidentified sources as saying.
Dong-A Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, said that North Korea had realigned its border troops after the incident.
South Korea`s unification ministry said they could not confirm the reports.
Since he took power after the death of his father in 2011, North Korea`s leader Kim Jong Un has strengthened border security to prevent defections, according to defectors and activists.