Two North Koreans defect to South by sea

Military officer among pair of escapees from North Korea

Two North Koreans defect to South by sea

World Bulletin / News Desk

A North Korean military officer was joined by an ordinary citizen in making a dangerous escape to South Korea by sea Saturday, marking the first high-profile defection from the North since last month's breakthrough inter-Korean summit.

A South Korean government official cited by local news agency Yonhap confirmed the pair defected via a small boat to the west of the peninsula.

The South's Navy apparently caught sight of the vessel north of Baengnyeong Island.

The defectors are under investigation but reportedly already expressed their desire to escape from their reclusive homeland.

It has been more than a decade since a North Korean military officer crossed the country's closely guarded southern border directly, although Seoul's policy of accepting defectors has invited the arrival of thousands of escapees from the North since the 1990s.

The latest case comes at a time of great sensitivity because Pyongyang has threatened to abandon ongoing inter-Korean dialogue over military drills along with comments from ex-North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho, who has been critical of the North's authoritarian regime since abandoning his post in London in 2016.

Thae, who has been described by North Korea as "human scum," cast doubt on Pyongyang's willingness to denuclearize in Seoul's parliament last Monday.

The North has regularly criticized South Korea for accepting or even 'abducting' its citizens.

Inter-Korean travel is strictly restricted by both nations.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Mayıs 2018, 11:30