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Second North Korean soldier defects to South Korea in a month

A North Korean soldier defected to the South after crossing the heavily fortified border, a defence ministry spokesman said Saturday, the second soldier to defect this month.

Published: 24th June 2017 01:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th June 2017 01:34 PM   |  A+A-

FILE - in this April 17, 2017, file photo, two North Korean soldiers look at the south side as a South Korean soldier, center, standing guard at the border village of Panmunjom which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, South Korea. (Associa

By AFP

SEOUL: A North Korean soldier defected to the South after crossing the heavily fortified border, a defence ministry spokesman said Saturday, the second soldier to defect this month.

"A North Korean soldier defected to one of our Guard Posts at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday at the middle section of the border," the spokesman said, according to a report by the Yonhap news agency.

"He has been taken into custody for questioning," he added

There was no exchange of fire between the two sides when the North Korean soldier, a private, smuggled himself across the border to the south, the Yonhap report said.

His defection came after another North Korean soldier walked across the tense border on June 13.

On June 18, a North Korean civilian swam across a river to defect to the South, with styrofoam pieces strapped to both shoulders to stay afloat.

Early this month, two of four crew members of a North Korean fishing boat which drifted to the South refused to return home. They were allowed resettle.

Over the decades since the peninsula was divided, dozens of North Korean soldiers have fled to the South through the Demilitarised Zone, which extends for two kilometers either side of the actual border.

A North Korean soldier defected to the South in September last year, and a teenage North Korean soldier defected in June 2015.

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.

More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled their homeland but it is very rare for them to cross the closely guarded inter-Korean border, which is fortified with minefields and barbed wire.

Most flee across the porous frontier with neighbouring China.

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