North Korean soldier defects across demilitarized zone

A young, "low-ranking" North Korean soldier defected to South Korea across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the t...

Posted: Dec 21, 2017 10:33 AM
Updated: Dec 21, 2017 10:33 AM

A young, "low-ranking" North Korean soldier defected to South Korea across the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the two countries early Thursday morning, South Korea said.

The soldier, aged in his late teens or early 20s, was carrying a personal firearm when he crossed the DMZ in heavy fog just after 8.00 a.m. local time, South Korean authorities said.

The deserter crossed the border with his personal firearm in the early morning fog

He was the fourth North Korean soldier to defect to South Korea in 2017

It is the second defection across the heavily-guarded border in less than two months; another North Korean soldier was shot multiple times while dramatically escaping to the South on November 13.

No shots were fired during the latest defection, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. However, more than one hour later, around 9.30 a.m., South Korean soldiers fired 20 warning shots as North Korean soldiers appeared to search for the defector.

Several other gunshots were heard from the northern side of the border at 10.13 a.m. and 10.16 a.m., South Korean authorities said.

The defector in custody and is likely being questioned as authorities investigate the reasons behind his defection, and seek other information about his life in one of the world's most reclusive states.

Fourth defection in 2017

In total, four members of the North Korean military have defected to South Korea since the beginning of 2017, including two in June.

Prior to this year, there had only been four defections from North Korea's armed forces in the past five years: one in 2016, one in 2015 and two in 2012.

John Delury, associate professor at the Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul, told CNN it was far to early to draw any conclusions from the numbers of defections in 2017.

"There are often individual motives to spur this ... four in a year is not enough to constitute evidence of something systemic," he said. "There would be need to be a lot more (defections) I would say."

The most high profile was in November when a North Korean defector, named Oh Chong Song, was shot multiple times after driving to the border in a jeep.

While attempting to pursue Oh, North Korean soldiers fired across the demilitarized zone, violating the Korean War armistice.

The North Korean military has more than 1.2 million active soldiers and a further 7.7 million in reserves. It is one of the largest ground forces in the world.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 157079

Reported Deaths: 2296
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah32006550
Washington21377217
Marion18625287
Clackamas13456191
Lane10373131
Jackson8569118
Umatilla770982
Deschutes602765
Yamhill380069
Linn361357
Malheur336358
Polk308845
Klamath281655
Douglas259255
Josephine240056
Benton236618
Jefferson197630
Coos159121
Union130519
Columbia127721
Wasco122226
Lincoln113920
Hood River107129
Morrow105014
Crook78118
Clatsop7796
Baker6769
Curry4387
Tillamook4302
Lake3836
Harney2786
Grant2301
Wallowa1445
Gilliam541
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00
Eugene
Partly Cloudy
38° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 38°
Corvallis
Clear
35° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 35°
Roseburg
Cloudy
41° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 41°
North Bend
Partly Cloudy
39° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 35°
KEZI Radar
KEZI Temperatures
KEZI Planner

LATEST FORECAST

Community Events