SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean army sergeant reportedly defected to South Korea on Saturday after killing his platoon and squadron leaders.
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, when a North Korean sergeant crossed the eastern land border. The defection Saturday took place in the west, near a crossing point where South Korean managers enter the North every day to work at an industrial park in the North Korean town of Kaesong, just north of the border. Products made at the complex, a joint venture between the Koreas, enter the South through the same cross-border road.
The two Koreas technically are still at war, the 1950-53 Korean War having ended with a truce, not a peace treaty. Their relations have worsened in the past five years, after President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea refused to send substantial amounts of aid until North Korea ended its nuclear weapons program. In 2010 the North shelled a South Korean border island, killing four people; it is also accused of having sunk a South Korean naval vessel during the same year, an episode in which 46 sailors died.MORE IN Wire NewsDES MOINES, Iowa — Closing in on a decision about whether to again run for president, Mitt Romney... Full StoryWASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve has declared economic growth “solid. Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: In 1835, deranged house painter attempts to kill Pres. Andrew Jackson; in 1969, Beatles play last live public performance on roof of Apple Corps building, London; in 1935, poet Richard Brautigan born in Tacoma, Washington.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Maple syrup standards revised to match international standards; city must decide how best to use $300K in leftover sewer project money; Bryanna Allen reports on funding proposal for solar projects; local agency gets HUD money.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1393, quick thinking teen girl saves King Charles IV of France from burning alive at masquerade ball; in 1760, Vermont town of Pownal created by N.H. Gov. Benning Wentworth; Canuplin, Filipino movie star, born.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day, 1700, Cascadia Earthquake, Magnitude 9 plus, strikes West Coast with tsunami effects felt as far away as Japan; in 1885, troops loyal to Sudanese Mohammad Ahmad conquer Khartoum; in 1992, Boris Yeltsin untargets U.S.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 971 AD, Southern Han war elephant corps defeated by Song Dynasty troops bowmen; in 1870, Montana, Marias massacre, U.S. kills 173 Native Americans; in 1941, Charles Lindbergh recommends neutrality pact with Nazis.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Bryanna Allen reports Castleton Downtown hosts open house, fire in Springfield leaves family without a roof of their own, suspected Bosnian war criminal trial goes to jury, Brent Curtis reports Rutland Town budget set to rise.