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7:33, 21 December 2017

North Korean Soldier Defects Via DMZ, and Gunfire Erupts


North Korean Soldier Defects Through DMZ, and Gunfire Erupts

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HONG KONG — A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea on Thursday via the heavily guarded demilitarized zone separating the two countries, major to gunfire on each sides of the border, the South Korean military mentioned.

The “low ranking” soldier was manning a guard post along the DMZ when he fled by means of thick fog, the South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Employees mentioned.

The escape follows a related one final month, in which another North Korean soldier was shot by his colleagues as he effectively fled his DMZ posting.

In that case, South Korean border guards who heard the gunshots located the soldier 55 yards from the border line that bisects Panmunjom, the so-called truce village in the Joint Safety Location, and carried him to safety. Physicians later found dozens of parasitic worms in his digestive technique, some as extended as 11 inches, which officials said was a sign of the poor hygiene and nutrition afflicting North Korea.

Officials stated the soldier who fled Thursday was not fired upon. South Korean soldiers later fired 20 warning shots at North Korean border guards who were searching for the defector, which was followed 40 minutes later by gunfire in the North, the Joint Chiefs of Employees stated.

Much more than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea since a famine killed at least a million individuals in the North in the 1990s. The nation has not too long ago been the topic of a tightening grip of sanctions that have curbed exports that give urgently needed income, and it has been struggling with the influence of a drought that has lowered agricultural yields.

But it is really rare for individuals to flee across the demilitarized zone. The 2.5-mile-wide DMZ, regarded the most heavily fortified border in the planet, is guarded by minefields, sentry posts and tall fences topped with barbed wire, some electrified.

The soldier’s defection to South Korea on Thursday was the fourth this year, and the gunfire over the episode is specific to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula just as hopes have grown for a thaw in relations in between the South and North.

South Korean officials have lately held out the possibility that they may be willing to push back the timing of planned joint military workouts with the United States to decrease tensions.

Those workout routines have traditionally drawn a fierce response from North Korea, which sees them as a preparation for military action against the North.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, told NBC News that he was open to curtailing the workouts ahead of next year’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in February.

“It is possible for South Korea and the U.S. to overview the possibility of postponing the exercises,” he said. “I’ve made such a suggestion to the U.S., and the U.S. is presently reviewing it. Nonetheless, all this depends on how North Korea behaves.”

China and Russia have proposed a “freeze for freeze” agreement in which North Korea would halt its nuclear and missile tests in return for a halt to the military workouts.

But on Wednesday, the Pentagon distanced itself from Mr. Moon’s suggestion about delaying the workouts.

“The United States and our allies and partners in the region have extended carried out routine workout routines to preserve readiness,” Lt. Col. Chris Logan, a Defense Division spokesman, told Yonhap. “But it would be inappropriate to discuss plans for future workout routines at this time.”

In a achievable sign of worsening conditions in the North, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Employees stated that 15 North Koreans, which includes the 4 soldiers, had fled straight to South Korea this year, compared with 5 people, which includes 1 soldier, final year. Most defectors stay away from such a perilous crossing to the South, alternatively fleeing by means of China.

A version of this write-up seems in print on , on Web page A8 of the New York edition with the headline: Another North Korean Soldier Flees Fortified Border Zone Into the South. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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Published at Thu, 21 Dec 2017 04:31:43 +0000


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