North Korean Soldier Crosses Heavily Guarded Border and Defects to South Korea

Arturo Kim
December 2, 2018

The railway survey marks another follow-up to the Pyongyang Declaration signed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in late September during their third summit, in which they agreed to pursue "substantial measures" to develop the nations' economies in a "balanced manner".

Before the South Korean train headed for the North on Friday, a farewell ceremony was held at Dorasan Station, just south of the border in Paju, Gyeonggi.

USA officials are seeking a "substantive next step" toward denuclearization, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN on Saturday, adding that Washington has been seeing good progress in discussions with Pyongyang.

"The sanctions exemption has big implications given that the project has garnered recognition and support from the United States and the worldwide society", South Korea's presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom said at the time.

"A North Korean soldier was detected crossing the military demarcation line" by South Korean troops using surveillance equipment, the military Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement. They also announced measures to reduce conventional military threats, such as creating buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries and a no-fly zone above the border and also removing a number of guard posts and demining sections in border areas.

According to plans outlined by Cho's ministry, Korean officials will begin by surveying a 400-kilometre (248-mile) railroad section between Kaesong and Sinuiju that cuts through the North's central region and northeastern coast. A freight train that ran from Dorasan Station in the South to Panmun Station in the North was stopped on November 28, 2008, after inter-Korean relations became strained.

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South Korea will send trains across the border to the North for the first time in a decade, after recent sanction exemptions paved the way to begin work to connect railways separated since the Korean War.

South Korean officials planned to debrief him to try to determine his motive for defecting, the military said.

A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea early on Saturday, the South Korean military said.

"They have agreed to maintain the vigorous implementation of existing sanctions to ensure that North Korea understands that denuclearization is the only way to economic prosperity and lasting peace on the Korean peninsula", he added.

The two leaders made a vague commitment on "denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula during the summit, but glossed over how to make it happen.

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