Update, 4 Mar 2010: According to this article (link in Korean), he didn’t come alone. There were originally four. Of the other three, one was killed while trying to escape, and two more are still missing. The greatest significance is the personal tragedy for the three who didn’t make it, and for the families of all four of the soldiers, who will almost certainly become objects of the regime’s collective retribution. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
[Satellite images of the Kumgang border crossing; click to see full size]
An important secondary significance is that soldiers’ morale, at least in some front-line units, is so low that they would speak openly of defection among themselves and actually risk their lives trying it.
Well, Roh and DJ always promised that eventually, this engagement stuff would be a two-way street:
South Korea’s top spy agency says a North Korean soldier has defected to South Korea. The National Intelligence Service said Wednesday that the North Korean soldier was being questioned over the reasons for his defection. It declined to give his name, rank or the date he defected. [AP]
By now, we can only hope that South Korea’s relevant organ is giving this fortunate young man plenty of warm care and ChocoPies. Say a prayer for the soldier’s family; God only knows what their fate will be.
The source for the Kumgang connection is this Korean-language news story. The road itself has been somewhat disused recently; it’s nice to see some of that cash wasted on North Korea going to a good use other than as an MSR for an invasion.
Park Wang-Ja was not available for comment.
Related? From the Chosun Ilbo: “North Korea has promised to assure South Korea of the safety of four South Koreans it claims are being detained for trespassing once the ongoing probe is finished. North Korean delegates at an inter-Korean meeting Tuesday said the investigation “by a concerned agency” will take some time, according to the Unification Ministry.” The fact that the North Koreans have stopped talking about its “relevant organ” is conclusive proof that they read this blog.