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North Korean soldier defects across DMZ under fog cover

21 Diciembre 2017

A North Korean soldier fled to South Korea on Thursday across the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone, prompting gunfire as his comrades searched for him in the thick fog, South Korean officials said.

By the time when the soldier arrived at a front-line South Korean guard post, there was no shooting from the North, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Under pressure from Washington, the UN has already banned virtually all exports from North Korea, and placed limits on the sale of oil to the Pyongyang regime.

The crossing took place in the northeastern province of Gangwon, according to South Korean broadcaster KBS.

Five days ago, a high-ranking official once described as the 'second most powerful man in North Korea' disappeared from public life, sparking speculation he too may have been executed by death squads.

The defection comes a little more than a month after another North Korean soldier defected in a dramatic flight in which he was shot by North Korean soldiers before being rescued by southern soldiers.

The United Nations Command, which maintains military forces along the border in the South, said it was aware of the incident and was coordinating with the South Korean military to determine the circumstances of the defection.

The rash of defections also threatens to complicate South Korea's efforts to ensure the smooth running of the 2018 Winter Olympics, which begin in Pyeongchang in February.

There hasn't been a lot of talk about North Korea lately.

It also seeks to allow countries to seize, inspect and freeze any vessel in their ports or territorial waters that they believe was carrying banned cargo or involved in prohibited activities.

In the recent past, two other members of the North Korean military had fled to South Korea.

South Korean officials have recently held out the possibility that they might be willing to push back the timing of planned joint military exercises with the United States to reduce tensions.

The proposed delay in drills was discussed during a summit between Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week after the proposal was submitted to Washington, an official at the presidential Blue House said this week.

Cotton suggests that if things continue at this rate, North Korea could probably build up to a bigger event: what has been called the "Juche bird", a test of a missile loaded with a live nuclear weapon, probably above the Pacific Ocean.

It was the fourth defection of a North Korean soldier this year. They travel on to the South later, usually via another country. "The ability to load and launch with minimal warning would put strain on the ability of missile defenses to get an early track on the missile".

Oh wants to become a lawyer, said his surgeon Lee Cook-Jong, who gave him a law book. "I just hope he will become a good citizen, whatever kind of occupation he chooses".

North Korean soldier defects across DMZ under fog cover