A North Korean soldier fled across a heavily fortified border to defect to South Korea early on Saturday, the military in Seoul said, just as the rivals began taking steps to reduce military tensions.
South Korean soldiers escorted the defector to safety after finding him moving south of the eastern side of the military demarcation line that bisects the Koreas, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said.
The incident came as Donald Trump reaffirmed in a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in that he wants a second summit with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un. Trump and Moon, meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, “reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization” of North Korea, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
South Korean authorities said they would question the defecting soldier over the details of his escape.
The North’s official media has not reported about Saturday’s case. Pyongyang has frequently accused Seoul of kidnapping or enticing its citizens to defect.
In November 2017 a North Korean soldier, Oh Chong-song, was critically wounded in a jointly controlled area after he fled to the South amid a hail of bullets fired by his former comrades.