A North Korean soldier has made his way to South Korea across the demilitarized zone. The soldier was detained by South Korean military right after his escape. The news were confirmed by the South’s joint chiefs of staff.
Officials have not revealed the name of the soldier, who was first detected by thermal imaging equipment. At the time, he was spotted moving close to the Imjin river. He was seen in the area on late Wednesday and detained by South Korean military right before midnight.
The JSC said earlier today that the soldier confirmed he wanted to defect to South Korea. The news come just days after South Korea’s military returned three North Koreans who crossed to the country on a fishing boat. Officials initially thought the three were looking to leave the country but the men later expressed their interest in returning to North Korea.
The defection is a rare one since most North Koreans attempt to make their way to South Korea using other routes. Crossing through the DMZ is very dangerous since the area is guarded by landmines, fences and other military equipment.
The last defection from a North Korean soldier happened back in November 2018. That soldier made it through the DMZ, which separates the two countries. In November 2017, a North Korean soldier made headlines when he made an escape that was caught on video.
The North Korean soldier attempted to escape using a vehicle that later broke down. During his escape attempt, he was shot by North Korean military. He was later found by South Korean military, who transported him to a hospital.
The North Korean soldier arrived to the hospital in critical condition but recovered. He later spoke to the media and it was revealed that he was a driver working for the military. He is one of the few defectors who have defected through the DMZ. He received a lifetime supply of a popular South Korean chocolate snack after saying it was his favorite.
Weeks later, another member of North Korea’s military escaped through the DMZ. The soldier appeared at a guard post along the western side of the DMZ. No gunfire happened during the defection but Yonhap reported that South Korea’s military made around 20 warning shots at North Korean border guards who were seen looking for the soldier. The soldier was detained and questioned by South Korean military.
All defectors undergo questioning before they are taken to a center so they can learn more about South Korea. When they are released, they receive financial support from the country as well as education, housing and job training.
On Wednesday, South Korean military also recovered a body of a person believed to be from North Korea. The body was found near the DMZ and Yonhap news agency reported that it appeared to have been dead for at least two weeks.
An estimated 30,000 North Koreans have defected since the end of the war in 1953. The majority cross into China to make their way to South Korea.