North Korean Soldier Said to Cross Demilitarized Zone to Defect

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SEOUL, South Korea -- A North Korean Army sergeant defected to South Korea on Saturday after killing his platoon and squadron leaders, a South Korean military spokesman said.

South Korean border guards, after hearing gunfire to the north, saw a North Korean soldier crossing the heavily armed land frontier, said a spokesman for the South Korean military's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking on the condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made.

The soldier threw down his rifle, after which the guards used a loudspeaker to confirm his intention to defect, according to South Korean military officials. The soldier, identified only as a sergeant, crossed the border shortly after noon. He later told investigators that he had defected after killing two officers, according to the South Korean military, which withheld more details pending further investigation.

Thousands of North Koreans defect to South Korea every year, leaving behind hunger and oppression in their homeland, but almost all of them travel through China. It is unusual for a North Korean soldier to defect through the tightly sealed land border, which is defended on both sides with minefields, barbed-wire fences and armed soldiers.

The last such defection was in March 2010..

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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