NKorea soldier defects to SKorea across border

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SEOUL: A North Korean soldier walked across one of world’s most heavily fortified borders on Thursday and defected to the South, military authorities said.

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“He is now being held in custody for questioning”, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said

The man, said JCS, crossed the military demarcation line around 01:00 GMT on the central-eastern part of the border. There was no exchange of fire during the defection.

It is rare for North Korean defectors to walk across the mine-riddled border, which is guarded by tens of thousands of soldiers on both sides.

The last time it happened was in June last year when a teenage North Korean soldier surrendered himself to South Korean border guards at Hwacheon, north-east of Seoul.

Hundreds of North Koreans flee their isolated and impoverished homeland each year.

Most cross the porous frontier with China first before traveling through a Southeast Asian nation and eventually arriving in South Korea.

In 2012, a North Korean soldier walked unchecked through rows of electrified fencing and surveillance cameras, prompting Seoul to sack three field commanders for a security lapse.

In August 2014, two North Koreans swam across the Yellow sea border to a South Korean frontline island.

AFP

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