International

South Korean Man, In Rare Act, Defects To North

South Korea DMZ. i i

A South Korean soldier stands guard on Oct 16, 2009 near the demilitarized zone northeast of Seoul, South Korea that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War. Lee Jin-man/AP Photo hide caption

itoggle caption Lee Jin-man/AP Photo
South Korea DMZ.

A South Korean soldier stands guard on Oct 16, 2009 near the demilitarized zone northeast of Seoul, South Korea that has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War.

Lee Jin-man/AP Photo

It seems more than slightly strange that anyone would want to defect to NORTH Korea. The trek to freedom usually runs in the other direction.

But the North Korean news agency is saying a 30-year old South Korean has indeed defected to the north.

As NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from China:

The north's Korean Central News Agency identified the defector as 30-year-old Kang Tong-rim, a former employee of the Samsung company who later became a pig farmer.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency quoted the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying that Kang had apparently cut a hole in a fence on the south side of the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the two Koreas.

KCNA reported that while in the army, Kang had previously failed in two attempts to defect to the North. It said that Kang was "beside himself with joy for having accomplished this heroic deed." It added that he was now "under the warm care of a relevant organ."

Despite the warm relevant organ business, it's unlikely too many more South Koreans will be rushing north to join the former pig farmer.

It's not that it's unheard of for some South Koreans to defect to the north. The English-language Korea Herald reports this:

A 45-year-old South Korean man made it into the communist neighbor through the border between North Korea and China in 2007 but was expelled for reasons yet to be identified.

Last month, a 54-year-old man received a suspended prison term in South Korea for trying to defect to Pyongyang through a North Korean embassy earlier this year.

But if the fenced and heavily guarded boarder barriers were removed, it's a safe bet the wave of humans voting with their feet wouldn't be headed north.

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