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 swam across a river to defect to South Korea on June 13, with styrofoam pieces strapped to both shoulders to stay afloat. 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.