One North Korean soldier has apparently had enough of Kim Jong Un and his corrupt regime. The unnamed soldier walked across one of the world’s most heavily defended borders to defect to the South, according to South Korean officials.
The teenager approached a South Korean guard station in north eastern Hwacheon in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) on Monday, South Korea’s defence ministry said in a statement.
There was no confrontation or exchange of fire and the soldier is now being held in custody.
Given the extreme security it is exceedingly rare for defectors to walk across the DMZ. The last time someone took the walk was in 2012.
The usual route for defectors is via China, where they then make their way through South East Asia and finally into South Korea.
There are nearly 28,000 North Koreans who have immigrated to the South, with the vast majority taking the China route.
Anti-personnel landmines that litter the 155 mile long DMZ are the main reason its an unpopular escape route.
When a North Korean soldier defected through the wire fence was in October 2012, it was a huge embarrassment for the South Korean military and steps were immediately taken to strengthen border security. The soldier snuck through the fence undetected.
Increased activity by North Korean soldiers in the DMZ the past few months have led experts to believe that the North has been trying to make defections more difficult.
As we reported last month, 16 North Korean defected to the South on dictator Kim Jong Un’s birthday, which deeply angered the rotund leader.
In addition to landmines, the DMZ is fortified with barbed wire and guarded by tens of thousands of soldiers on both side.
Hundreds of North Koreans flee the poverty and a repressive regime of the North each year. Yet defection is risky as the vicious North Korean regime will seek reprisals on family and friends of defectors. It is therefor rare for an individual to defect as usual those that want to escape take their whole families with them.