2 N. Korean Soldiers AWOL in China

Lee Sang Yong  |  2015-03-20 14:32

Image: Daily NK
Two armed North Korean border patrol guards from Sinuiju in North Hamkyung Province reportedly escaped the country and crossed over into Chinas Dandong on Tuesday, Daily NK has learned. Of the two, one was captured on Thursday by Chinese public security officials, while the other is still on the run, according to local sources. 

Upon discovery of the incident, North Koreas military authorities immediately alerted Chinese authorities in the border city of Dandong, leading to a large-scale manhunt on the same day and the plastering of posters featuring the soldiers images around heavily trafficked areas of Dandong. Going AWOL, particularly while armed, is considered an offense of great magnitude in both North Korea and China.  

Three days into the search, one of the soldiers was arrested in a small rural village near Dandong. A North Korean solider carrying a gun was apprehended in quiet village near Dandong Singu District, a source based in the border city told Daily NK. At the time, there were large numbers of public security officials and soldiers on the streets. 

He added, The solider held a woman hostage shortly before he was captured, creating a standoff with security officials. But in the end he was subdued. 

The statement issued by Dandong's local border defense station reads, Two North Korean soldiers from the border area were discovered to have crossed over into China. The two soldiers are thought to be armed with guns and knives, so please stay alert, but remain calm, to avoid harm," going on to urge anyone who may have spotted the suspects to call the station.

A poster [seen above] obtained by Daily NK provides a description of one solider's appearance and words of caution for the public. A Chosun [North Korean] soldier born in 1996 by the name of Kim Hyeok Nam escaped from North Korea clad in military fatigues, while carrying two military knives, night vision goggles, and three blank magazines, it states, asking people to immediately report to the authorities if they know anything about these soldiers whereabouts. 

The soldier still at large may have fled to a different city, according to the source, who surmised this is why authorities have stepped up inspections at train stations and bus terminals in Dandong. Officials are carrying out a manhunt even around surroundings hills, he said. The city may appear calm on the surface—like nothing out of the ordinary going on—but people are becoming increasingly concerned."

As to why the soldiers deserted their posts, the source, reflecting assumptions held by most, speculated that they lacked sufficient food or ran into trouble with higher-ranking officers. 

*Translated by Jiyeon Lee

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