North Korean soldier defector a general’s son

North Korean soldier Oh Chong Song drives along a road leading to the truce village of Panmunjom in this screengrab made from video footage released by the United Nations Command on November 22, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
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North Korean soldier defector a general’s son

TOKYO: The North Korean soldier who defected to the South in a hail of bullets last year is a general’s son but says most Northerners of his age have no loyalty to Kim Jong Un, according to a Japanese newspaper.
Oh Chong Song’s dramatic dash across the border at the Panmunjom truce village in the Demilitarized Zone — under fire from his comrades — made global headlines last year, and saw him hospitalized with serious injuries.
It is very rare for the North’s troops to defect at Panmunjom, a major tourist attraction and the only place on the frontier where forces from the two sides come face-to-face.
The 25-year-old Oh is the son of a major-general, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported, in what it said was the defector’s first media interview.
But despite his privileged birth — he described himself as “upper class” — he felt no allegiance to the North’s leadership.
“Inside the North, people, and especially the younger generation, are indifferent to each other, politics, and their leaders, and there is no sense of loyalty.”
He was “indifferent” to the rule of Kim Jong Un, the third generation of the Kim family to lead the North, and had no interest in how his friends felt about it.
“Probably 80 percent of my generation is indifferent and has no loyalty,” he was quoted as saying.
“It is natural to have no interest nor loyalty since the hereditary system is taken as a given, regardless of its inability to feed people.”
Oh denied media reports in the South that he was wanted for murder in the North.
After some unspecified trouble with friends, the Sankei said, he started drinking. On his way back to his post he broke through a checkpoint and, fearing execution, decided to keep going.
“I feared I could be executed if I went back so I crossed the border,” he was quoted as saying, adding he had no regrets about defecting.
The newspaper said Japanese intelligence officials had confirmed Oh’s identity.
A short clip posted by the Sankei Shimbun on its website shows him wearing a black jacket and a white top, speaking with a slight North Korean accent. His face is not revealed.
The geopolitical landscape around the Korean peninsula has shifted dramatically since last year when US President Donald Trump threatened to rain “fire and fury” on the nuclear-armed North Korea.
“I really felt that we were on the verge of war with the US,” Oh was quoted as saying. “The tension (that I felt) trickled down from the top.”
Now a rapid rapprochement has taken hold on the peninsula and troops in the border truce village where he defected are to be disarmed.
Oh said he understands the former comrades who shot him.
“If they didn’t shoot they would face heavy punishment,” he said. “So if I was them, I would have done the same.”


British PM Theresa May resigns over Brexit failure

Updated 55 min 16 sec ago
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British PM Theresa May resigns over Brexit failure

  • She will resign as Conservative Party leader on June 7 with a leadership contest in the following week
  • She endured crises and humiliation in her effort to find a compromise Brexit deal that parliament could ratify

LONDON:  British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Friday she would quit, triggering a contest that will bring a new leader to power who is likely to push for a more decisive Brexit divorce deal.

May set out a timetable for her departure — she will resign as Conservative Party leader on June 7 with a leadership contest beginning the following week.

“I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist party on Friday, 7th June so that a successor can be chosen,” May said outside 10 Downing Street.

With her voice breaking up with emotion, May, who endured crises and humiliation in her effort to find a compromise Brexit deal that parliament could ratify, said she bore no ill will.

“I will shortly leave the job that has been the honor of my life to hold,” May said. “The second female prime minister, but certainly not the last.”

“I do so with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love,” May said.

May, once a reluctant supporter of EU membership, who won the top job in the turmoil that followed the 2016 Brexit vote, steps down with her central pledges — to lead the United Kingdom out of the bloc and heal its divisions — unfulfilled.

May bequeaths a deeply divided country and a political elite that is deadlocked over how, when or whether to leave the EU. She said her successor would need to find a consensus in parliament on Brexit.

May’s departure will deepen the Brexit crisis as a new leader is likely to want a more decisive split, raising the chances of a confrontation with the European Union and a snap parliamentary election.

The leading contenders to succeed May all want a tougher divorce deal, although the EU has said it will not renegotiate the Withdrawal Treaty it sealed in November.

Meanwhile, the EU will not offer whoever takes over as British prime minister a better Brexit deal, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Friday.

“From my perspective, I don’t see the European Union offering any new prime minister a better or very different deal to what was on offer to Theresa May,” Coveney told Ireland’s Newstalk radio station after May on Friday said she would quit.

“This idea that a new prime minister will be a tougher negotiator and will put it up to the EU and get a much better deal for Britain? That’s not how the EU works.”