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South Korean crosses armed border in rare defection to North

WorldJan 02, 2022 04:16PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. A man stands near binoculars as he tries to see North Korea's propaganda village of Gijungdong at the Dora observatory near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji 2/2

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean has crossed the heavily fortified border in a rare defection to North Korea, South Korea's military said on Sunday.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it carried out a search operation after detecting the person around 9:20 p.m. (1220 GMT) on Saturday on the eastern side of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas.

"We've confirmed that the person crossed the Military Demarcation Line border about 10:40 p.m. (1340 GMT) and defected to the North," the JCS said.

The JCS said it could not confirm whether the person was alive, but sent a notice to the North via a military hotline asking for protection.

The border crossing, which is illegal in South Korea, came as North Korea carries out strict anti-coronavirus measures since shutting borders in early 2020, though it has not confirmed any infections.

A public and political uproar emerged after North Korean troops shot dead a South Korean fisheries official who went missing at sea in September 2020, for which Pyongyang blamed anti-virus rules and apologised.

Two months earlier, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared a national emergency and sealed off a border town after a North Korean defector who he said had COVID-19 symptoms illegally crossed the border into the North from the South.

The North's prolonged lockdowns and restrictions on inter-provincial movement have also pushed the number of North Korean defectors arriving in the South to an all-time low.

Cross-border relations soured after denuclearisation negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington stalled since a failed summit in 2019.

South Korea and a U.S.-led U.N. force are technically still at war with North Korea since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

South Korean crosses armed border in rare defection to North
 

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Comments (3)
John Healy
John Healy Jan 02, 2022 8:21AM ET
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Good luck to him, living under the heavy hand of a ruthless dictator well known for quelling any dissention by killing. He might get tired of his subsidized, minimalist lifestyle when his heating gas and food are rationed. But hey, if being lazy and worshipping a contemporary iteration of Mao is what he wants to do with his life, that’s his choice. There’s now one more job opening in the South waiting for someone who wants to work hard for a better life.
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Jan 02, 2022 4:16AM ET
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It was Bolton the warmonger when he was with Trump at the 'failed 2019 meeting' who caused big damage when they badly nixed the chances of North and South Korea signing a peace treaty. Bolton the warmonger and Trump the incompetent deal maker didn't want peace in the Korean peninsula, a real tragedy.
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp Jan 02, 2022 4:16AM ET
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There are some people that you just wonder what world are they observing.
Mark Treutelaar
Mark Treutelaar Jan 02, 2022 4:16AM ET
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Chris you must smoke Wampum . North Korea would never sign a peace treaty
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo Jan 02, 2022 4:10AM ET
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It's a PUBLICITY STUNT, I bet. He's likely a former defector from the North to the South that couldn't find his way around a society where you don't get communist cradle to grave support. So, I bet he couldn't catch on in a society where you gotta work hard. -- I'll update you ;)
Jamie Dimon
Jamie Dimon Jan 02, 2022 4:10AM ET
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David David chinese propaganda, welcome back
Niva Spin
Niva Spin Jan 02, 2022 4:10AM ET
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no, more like a spy
 
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