15 December, Friday


N.Korean escapes to South by sea border

World

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A young North Korean man made a perilous escape into South Korea via a border island Friday, according to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff.
 
The man in his 20s was rescued on Gyodong Island near the Yellow Sea border at around 1 a.m. local time (1700GMT), local news agency Yonhap reported, citing the JCS.
 
The escape was all the more dangerous because of heightened tensions on the peninsula currently due to Pyongyang exchanging threats with the United States.
 
As is customary, the man is being questioned to find out why he chose to enter South Korea, which offers refuge to defectors from the North subject to a period of acclimatization.
 
This was the latest among 11 officially recorded direct inter-Korean defections this year, marking a jump from just seven reported in 2016. Tens of thousands of North Koreans have defected to the South, but the majority have done so via China.
 
Seoul’s Unification Ministry is reportedly monitoring whether social instability in the North could be behind the leap in direct defections.
 
But the ministry also denied, at a Friday briefing, Pyongyang’s claim Seoul has forced one dozen North Korean women to marry in the South. The North’s official KCNA news agency reported Thursday it was a “sordid” operation to prevent their repatriation.
 
The 12 who entered South Korea last year after escaping from the restaurant they had been stationed at in China.
 
North Korea has repeatedly accused Seoul of abducting the women, and is refusing to agree to bilateral “humanitarian cooperation” until they are returned to the reclusive state.

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