North Korean soldier walks across DMZ to defect

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North Korean soldier walks across DMZ to defect

A young North Korean soldier walked across the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Monday in a bid to defect to the South, according to an official at the South’s Ministry of National Defense.

The soldier, described as in his late teens, arrived at one of the guard posts in the border town of Hwacheon, Gangwon, at around 8 a.m. Monday and expressed his willingness to defect, according to the official, who requested anonymity. “The soldier expressed his intention to defect and was transferred to a relevant government body to be questioned over his motives for defecting.”

The young soldier reached the guard post after walking across the land mine-ridden DMZ at the western frontline in Gangwon.

The soldier told the officials he had decided to defect due to repeated physical abuse at the hands of his superiors and complained about the realities of his impoverished country.

No exchange of fire or unusual movement by the North Korean military was detected at the time of the soldier’s trek through the DMZ.

The incident is the first defection in nearly three years made by a North Korean soldier through the DMZ. The last time it occurred, a North Korean soldier walked to the South across a 4-kilometer-wide area ridden with land mines and barbed wire.

BY JEONG YONG-SU, KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongnag.co.kr]

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