October 14, 1996 in Nation/World

North Korean Sergeant Defects

Compiled From Wire Services

A North Korean army sergeant was shot while defecting to South Korea but made it across the heavily guarded border Sunday, the Defense Ministry said.

Sgt. Kwak Kyung Il was shot before dawn Saturday by North Korean border guards and had lain hidden for a day to evade detection until the guards gave up their search, the ministry said.

He was being treated at a military hospital.

As North Korea’s economic woes worsen, more and more of its people have been defecting to South Korea. But because the two Koreas remain technically at war - only an armistice ended the 1950-53 Korean War - the border is heavily guarded and riddled with land mines.

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