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N. Korean Soldier Defects to South

September 14, 1999

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ A North Korean soldier swam across the heavily guarded border with South Korea on Tuesday and sought asylum, the Defense Ministry said.

The soldier, wearing only black underpants and carrying no weapons, swam to a small island just south of the western sea border and told a South Korean farmer that he was a defector, the ministry said.

The ministry did not release the soldier’s name and other details pending an investigation into his motives.

The island is about 60 miles northwest of Seoul.

With North Korea’s economic woes worsening, about 400 North Koreans have defected to the south since 1994, mostly through China.

The two Koreas are still technically at war, with no peace treaty signed following the 1950-53 Korean War. Though the border is the world’s most heavily armed, about a dozen North Korean soldiers have defected.

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