A North Korean soldier made his way through a heavily fortified border and defected to South Korea early Saturday, according to the military in Seoul. This occurred just as the rival nations began taking steps to reduce military tensions.
The soldier from the north was escorted by South Korean soldiers after finding him going south of the eastern side of the military demarcation line, the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the south said in a statement. He will be questioned by authorities in the south over the details of his escape.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had not observed any unusual activity from North Korean troops in the area where the defection happened.
This defection comes as the North and South Korea have pushed to implement a wide-ranging military agreement made in September to reduce tensions across their border.
There has been no report from North Korea about the defection, but Pyongyang has frequently accused Seoul of kidnapping or enticing its citizens to defect. About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Most of them have come through China.
Last November, a North Korean soldier was shot and wounded in a jointly controlled area after he ran to the South while a hail of bullets were being fired by his former comrades.
South Korea said the military agreement is an important trust-building step that would help stabilize peace and advance reconciliation between the rivals. But critics say the South risks conceding some of its conventional military strength before North Korea takes any meaningful steps on denuclearization. This is happening as the larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang seemingly drift into a stalemate.
How do you think this will effect the process of stabilizing the border between these nations? Will it effect the talks with the United States?