Tags: north | korean | teen | soldier | defects

North Korean Teen Soldier Defects Across No-Man's Land

By    |   Tuesday, 16 Jun 2015 06:45 AM

A teenaged North Korean soldier defected to South Korea on Monday by somehow crossing the heavily-guarded Demilitarized Zone that separates the two countries. He became the first member of the military to turn himself over to Seoul in three years.

The soldier reportedly told South Korean officials he braved the 2.5 mile trek because of beatings within the North Korean military, a South Korean spokesman told The New York Times. The soldier made it to Hwacheon, a central border northeast of Seoul, the spokesman added.

 


Agence France-Presse noted that while North Koreans defect their country in the hundreds each year, it is difficult do so via land because it is protected by barbed wire and guarded by thousands of troops on both sides. AFP reported that while Monday's defection led to a tense stand-off in the DMZ, no shots were fired.

The Times said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had attempted to slow the defections from his country since 2011 by strengthening patrols along the border with China. The newspaper noted that one North Korean soldier escaped in 2012 by climbing across three barbed-wire fences to reach South Korean border barracks.

In 2014, two civilians from North Korea swam up an island controlled by South Korea off its west coast to defect, said the Times.

BBC News reported most of the 28,000 who have managed to escape North Korea had done so through the border shared with China. The Times reported that since Kim Jong-un has taken power, North Koreans defecting to South Korea dropped form 2,706 in 2011 to 1,397 in 2014.

North Korea had reportedly planted anti-personnel mines in the DMZ to prevent its soldiers from escaping into South Korea, the Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.

"Under the order of leader Kim Jong-un, the military has gone all-out to prevent soldiers from going AWOL across the North Korea-China border," a South Korean official told the news agency.

The DMZ is a relic of the Korean War (1950-53), which technically has not ended since the two side stopped hostilities after an armistice. The land, made up mostly mountainous land near the 38th parallel, is a buffer zone which is off-limits to large troop gatherings and weaponry like tanks and artillery, according to National Geographic.

 



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A teenaged North Korean soldier defected to South Korea on Monday by somehow crossing the heavily-guarded Demilitarized Zone that separates the two countries. He became the first member of the military to turn himself over to Seoul in three years.
north, korean, teen, soldier, defects
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2015-45-16
Tuesday, 16 Jun 2015 06:45 AM
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