North Korean soldier defects to South Korea amid peace efforts

  • A North Korean soldier reportedly defected to South Korea at around 7:56 a.m. local time on Saturday.
  • The South Korean military spotted the suspected defector crossing the military demarcation line that separates the border.
  • Authorities are investigating.

A North Korean soldier reportedly defected to South Korea at around 7:56 a.m. local time on Saturday, according to South Korean news reports.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military detected the defector crossing the military demarcation line separating the border, according to Yonhap News.

“Related agencies plan to investigate him regarding the details of how he came to the South,” the Joint Chiefs said in a message.

The Joint Chief’s added that there were no “unusual” North Korean troops movements in the neighbouring area following the incident.

The incident marks the first military defection from North Korea since the two countries agreed to take several steps to lower tensions. In October, both countries agreed to withdraw firearms, dismantle guard posts at the border, and share surveillance information.

President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in briefly met at the G20 summit in Argentina on Friday, where Trump reaffirmed his intention to hold a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Defections into South Korea have incensed North Korea, which typically rekindles tensions between the two countries and the UN Command. Although some defectors have difficulty in adjusting to life in South Korea, they are offered education, meals, and jobs from the government.

According to one estimate from South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, the number of defections under Kim’s rule have dropped – from 2,706 in 2011 to 1,127 in 2017. Over 30,000 North Koreans have defected since the Korean War armistice ended hostilities in 1953.

Another North Korean soldier defected to South Korea, under a hail of gunfire, across the military demarcation line in November 2017.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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