Wednesday, February 16, 2011

North Korean defects through minefield to South Korea

As the North Korean elite prepared to put on choreographed celebrations to mark Kim Jong-il's birthday, a North Korean man walked across the heavily mined border into South Korea in a rare defection.  Military and spy agency officials could not explain how the man managed to walk across the 4km (2.5 mile) wide minefield and past North Korean guards.

The demilitarized zone border, which has divided the Korean peninsula since the end of the 1950-53 conflict, is rarely crossed. Hundreds of North Koreans flee the impoverished country each year across its northern border with China, and then make their way overland to the South.

While defections are cause for deep embarrassment for the North Korean authorities, the country's masses never hear or read about them through the state-controlled media.

The news came as North Koreans celebrated the country's biggest holiday, marking the 69th birthday of Kim Jong-il, the ailing Dear Leader.

In the South, balloons with anti-Pyongyang messages were released across the border, while in the capital, Seoul, protesters burnt posters of Kim Jong-il and his son Kim Jong-Un.

 The Guardian

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