Second North Korean soldier defects over the DMZ in 40 days

A North Korean soldier defected across the Demilitarized Zone into South Korea on Thursday, for the second time in two months.

The “low-ranking” soldier appeared out of thick fog in front of a South Korean guard post at around 8:04 a.m. (2304 GMT Wednesday), Yonhap news agency reported, citing the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul. He crossed over at a central part of the heavily fortified land border, a ministry spokesman said.

Forty days earlier another North Korean soldier made a rare and dramatic dash across the border at Panmunjom truce village as his former colleagues shot at him. He was seriously injured but survived.

No shots were fired during Thursday’s defection. Seoul’s Defense Ministry said it was investigating the motive for the defection.

The South Korean military later fired 20 warning shots at a North Korean search party looking for the defector, Yonhap reported.

About 30,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. They usually escape via China.

About 15 North Koreans have defected to the South so far this year, compared to one soldier and four civilians in 2016, Yonhap reported, citing an official tally.

aw/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)