Seoul, Dec 1 (IANS) A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea on Saturday across the eastern part of the militarised border separating the two countries, according to defence officials here.
The soldier crossed the border at 7.56 a.m., making it the first defection since the two Koreas began to reduce the military presence along the border as a part of an ongoing process of rapprochement at the beginning of the year, reports Efe news.
The South Korean forces did not detect any special activity from the North in light of the incident, and the defector was in the safe custody of its troops, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
North and South Korea in recent months have decreased their military presence near the border following a bilateral agreement to reduce tensions on the peninsula.
In November, some dozen border guard posts were closed, a first step towards the eventual elimination of all such installations along the border.
Both parties also agreed to form a joint team to study the possible reopening of civil navigation of the Han river delta, situated to the west of Seoul and adjoining the border with North, restricted over a period of time due to tensions between the two countries.
The two Koreas have removed hundreds of mines around the Joint Security Area and the South Korean border town of Cheorwon.
All of this was a result of a military agreement signed on September 19 between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a summit in Pyongyang.
It was the third summit between the two leaders this year, all of which have contributed towards rapprochement between the two countries following a decade of tensions and military provocations.