Defects from N. Korea: North Korean Soldier Defects
Published: June 15, 2015
Defects from N. Korea: North Korean Soldier Defects, A teenaged North Korean soldier walked across the world’s most heavily militarised border in a bid to defect to South Korea, South Korean defence ministry officials have said.
While there are more than a thousand defections from North Korea to South Korea every year, most defectors come via China.
It is rare for a North Korean to cross the heavily mined Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). The last such crossing was in 2012.
The soldier approached a remote South Korean guard post in Gangwon province’s Hwacheon county, in the central area of the peninsula, at about 8am on Monday, one defence ministry official said.
There was no exchange of fire or warning shots as the soldier clearly expressed his desire to defect, the official said.
The soldier was being held in custody while officials ran checks.
Stretching across the Korean peninsula, the DMZ is 4km wide and is fortified with landmines and barbed wire.
There are telephones on the South Korean side for defectors from the North to call for help.
Yonhap News Agency reported that the North Korean military had been laying landmines along parts of the border this year, in an apparent move to prevent defections.
South Korea’s defence ministry declined to confirm the report.
Later on Monday, the South’s unification ministry said that North Korea had agreed to repatriate a South Korean married couple held for what it said was illegal entry.
North Korea said in a notice signed by its Red Cross chief that the two South Koreans who had entered the North on May 11th would be handed over at the Panmunjom truce village on the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) border.
The ministry said the pair, a 59-year-old male and a 51-year-old female, had gone missing near the border between North Korea and China where they had been travelling. It gave no further details.
Four other South Korean citizens are known to be held by the North, including two men who confessed to having spied for the South, and a 21-year-old New York University student who is a US green card holder.
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