North Korean Soldier Defects Across Border, Says South Korea's Military

South Korea to send trains to North Korea in joint survey to connect railways separated since Korean War

North Korean soldier defects to South

With President Moon Jae-in having wrapped up the G-20 summit following a meeting with US President Donald Trump, hopes are high that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's visit to Seoul will materialize before the end of the year.

When it arrives at Panmun Station - the first North Korean terminal across the border - the six carriages will be linked up to a North Korean train, and the South Korean locomotive will return home.

Already with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump spoke about the need to work together with the worldwide community to "keep up the pressure until North Korea implements its commitment to denuclearization".

A South Korean train rolled across the heavily militarized frontier into North Korea for the first time in a decade Friday, as Seoul pushed ahead with a plan to reunite the two railway networks despite heavy United Nations sanctions. The soldier had crossed the military demarcation line on Friday morning (local time) and should now be heard, it was said.

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The military said it will question the soldier about how he escaped across the border, a 2.5-mile wide, 155-mile long buffer zone that's lined with barbed wire and filled with land mines.

Twenty-eight South Korean officials including people from the unification, and land, infrastructure and transport ministries will inspect the 400-kilometer section from Gaeseong to Sinuiju through December 5. Fifty-six South Korean officials will participate in the surveys, 28 each for the inspections on the western and eastern sections, the ministry said. A freight train that ran from Dorasan Station in the South to Panmun Station in the North was stopped on November 28, 2008, after inter-Korean relations became strained.

The US President met with the North Korean leader for the first time in Singapore this year, where the two leaders had signed a joint declaration to work towards achieving "complete denuclearisation" of the Korean Peninsula in exchange of Pyongyang's "security guarantees" from Washington.

More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled their homeland since the peninsula was divided at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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During the surveys, a North Korean train engine will pull six South Korean cars - including passenger and sleeping cars, a power-generator auto and a fuel tanker - to test operability.

The beginning of the inter-Korean rail survey marks a significant step in this year's economic cooperation projects and comes ahead of a possible visit to Seoul by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for what would be this year's fourth inter-Korean summit.

"Peace on the Korean Peninsula will solidify and both the South and North will prosper together as our railways link as one in the future", Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said in a congratulatory speech.

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