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Kim Jong Un bodyguard defects, seeks asylum in South Korea

By Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un bodyguard defects, seeks asylum in South Korea
A bodyguard for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has defected across the China border, according to South Korean activists. File Photo by KCNA

July 5 (UPI) -- A North Korean soldier who worked as Kim Jong Un's bodyguard wants to defect to the South.

Peter Chung, head of Justice for North Korea, an activist group in South Korea, said Wednesday the North Korean defector escaped by crossing the Chinese border on June 10, South Korean news service News 1 reported.

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The soldier was new to his occupation and is 17 years of age, according to the report.

The defector had been training in an area near Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, when he crossed the Yalu River last month.

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The North Korean teen had been selected to join a special security unit, and assigned to guarding a luxury compound belonging to the North Korean leader.

Chung, a Christian pastor, said the soldier "appeared to have some knowledge of South Korean culture and society, before he entered military service."

"He decided to leave North Korea owing to his dissatisfaction with the North Korean regime."

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The soldier has expressed interest in defecting to the South but is currently in a "safe house" in China, Chung said.

China does not recognize North Korean as refugees and often repatriates defectors.

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The teen soldier will arrive in South Korea soon, according to the report.

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More North Korean soldiers are defecting to the South, sometimes owing to a lack of food being supplied to the army.

A North Korean soldier in his 20s defected to the South by swimming across the Han River estuary along the DMZ on June 18. The soldier reportedly used blocks of Styrofoam as floats for his back and shoulders to survive the dangerous swim.

Other military defections occurred on June 13 and June 23.

At least one of the soldiers defected after hearing South Korean loudspeaker broadcasts at the border.

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