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(3rd LD) S. Korean man defects to N. Korea: Pyongyang

All Headlines 20:06 October 27, 2009

(ATTN: ADDS details released by S. Korean military throughout; RESTRUCTURES)
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 divided states, fulfilling his "longing" for the communist neighbor, Pyongyang's official media said Tuesday.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it found "barbed wires cut open" at the border through which the 30-year-old man, identified as Kang Dong-lim by the North, may have defected.

Defections from the capitalist South to the North are rare. The JCS said in the statement that Kang has been on a police wanted list since Sept. 25 for a beating incident earlier that month.

The North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report seen earlier in Seoul that Kang crossed the eastern side of the Demilitarized Zone on Monday.

Kang "is now under the warm care of a relevant organ," the KCNA said. "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 of military service is mandatory in South Korea.

A JCS official who spoke on customary condition of anonymity confirmed that the man had once served on the army base identified in the report.

According to the KCNA, 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.

The JCS said Kang had served from 2001-2003 at the border army base where the damaged barbed wires were found.

While about 17,000 North Koreans have come to the South, mostly via China since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, South Koreans have rarely sought to enter the impoverished neighbor.

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 through barbed wires bisecting the Koreas.


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