Thursday, October 29, 2009

Military on the hotseat over South Korean defector to North Korea

Chosun Ilbo reports that the South Korean military is under a hail of criticism over a man's flight to North Korea on Monday through a stretch of border guarded by the 22nd Division in Goseong, Gangwon Province. This is the same area where an unidentified man defected to North Korea in September 1996.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday dispatched a team to find out if their soldiers are guilty of negligence.

If the man, identified as Kang Tong-rim, defected to North Korea through the military demarcation line, this means that South Korean patrols failed to find the breach for a whole day. "It's unheard-of for a breach in the fence to remain undetected for more than a day, since the fences are patrolled 24 hours a day," said one military officer.

Kang strolled past a checkpoint that keeps civilians from reaching the border area some 10 km from the military demarcation line, cut through the fence and entered the demilitarized zone, which is strewn with land mines. The military completely failed to detect or deter Kang from moving through the area.

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