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(2nd LD) N. Korea says S. Korean man defected across land border

All Headlines 17:18 October 27, 2009

(ATTN: ADDS information on Kang in paras 3,8, background; RESTRUCTURES; RECASTS lead)
By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean man has defected to North Korea through the heavily armed land border between the two countries, fulfilling his "longing" for the communist state, Pyongyang's official media said Tuesday.

The 30-year-old man, identified as Kang Dong-lim, crossed the eastern side of the Demilitarized Zone on Monday, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report monitored in Seoul.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was checking whether the crossing did take place as reported. But an official who spoke on customary condition of anonymity confirmed that the man had once served in an army base identified in the report.

Defections from the capitalist South to the North are rare, while about 17,000 North Koreans have come to the South mostly via China since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce.

Kang "is now under the warm care of a relevant organ," the KCNA report said, adding, "he is pleased with the accomplishment of his desire for defection."

"During the military service he made several attempts to defect owing to his longing for the northern half of Korea, but in vain," it said. Two years military service is mandatory in South Korea.

According to the report, Kang raised pigs on a farm in South Korea's southwestern region after quitting his job at a Samsung-affiliated semiconductor company.

Samsung Electronics Co. said Kang's name was not immediately found on its list of former workers.

A 45-year-old South Korean man made it into the communist neighbor through the border between North Korea and China in 2007 but was expelled for reasons yet to be identified.

Last month, a 54-year-old man received a suspended prison term in South Korea for trying to defect to Pyongyang through a North Korean embassy earlier this year.

In March, a 40-year-old Japanese man apparently suffering from mental illness was taken into custody after trying to cut his way across barbed wires bisecting the Koreas.


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