North Korea man repatriated as another defects to South

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Aug. 11, 2017 at 4:34 AM
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Aug. 11 (UPI) -- South Korea repatriated a North Korean man in his 30s at the truce village of Panmunjom.

The North Korean national returned to his place of origin on Friday, as another North Korean man in his 20s defected across the maritime border, Yonhap reported.

South Korea's unification ministry said Friday, "One North Korean resident was handed over at 2 p.m., across the truce village of Panmunjom."

"An official from the North Korean side came out to meet him, but there was no conversation" between the two sides, a unification ministry official said, according to News 1.

The North Korean man was rescued near Daecheong Island along the western coast of the peninsula, not far from the Northern Limit Line that separates the two Koreas at sea.

The repatriated North Korean fisherman was swept away from Mongkumpo in South Hwanghae Province, while he was trawling for shellfish, according to Seoul.

After an interrogation, the South Korean government concluded the North Korean national wanted to return to North Korea.

A total of 36 North Koreans were voluntarily repatriated to the North in 2017, according to News 1.

Not all North Koreans who drift to the South, however, wish to return.

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff said Friday a North Korean national in his 20s was rescued on Gyodong Island, along the western coast at 1 a.m., and "defected," according to Yonhap.

The defection comes more than a month after a flurry of North Korea military desertions.

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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