13:01 GMT +313 November 2019
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    A North Korean man and woman walk under a mural with a message which reads Long live the great victory of the army-first policy in the city center of Wonsan on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, in Wonsan, North Korea.

    North Korean Soldier Walks Across World’s Most Fortified Border to Defect South

    © AP Photo / Wong Maye-E
    Asia & Pacific
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    The reported defection comes amid intensified conflict between the two states.

    The world knows well stories of the hardships and sacrifices North Korean defectors endure to escape the secluded state.

    Another desperate attempt to flee Kim Jong-Un's regime was reported on Thursday by the South Korean military.

    A North Korean soldier successfully crossed the military demarcation line running through the demilitarized zone dividing the North and the South. He reportedly was unarmed, and no exchange of fire took place.

    The soldier walked across an eastern section of the front line early in the morning, entering South Korea, and is currently being questioned, South Korea's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

    Over a thousand North Koreans flee to South Korea annually, with most traveling through China and experiencing severe hardships along the way, from hunger to forced prostitution.

    Directly crossing the border with the South may sound like a shorter way, but it is no less dangerous, as the DMZ is heavily mined, lined with barbed wire, and guarded by continuous patrols on both sides. The 160-mile buffer zone was fortified after the three-year Korean war ended in a truce in 1953. No official peace agreement has been signed and, technically, the rival nations remain at war.

    The most recent escape follows a number of high-profile defections that have outraged North Korea at a time of escalated tension on the peninsula over DPRK nuclear testing and missile launches.

    Already facing heavy UN sanctions, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test this month, claiming that it was a response to United States aggression. A Russian security agency source told RIA Novosti that the test carried the explosive power of 30 kilotons, twice that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

    The test has drawn international criticism, with the US, South Korea, and Japan, considering additional sanctions.


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    defectors, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), South Korea
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