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
0

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.”


UK core pay growth strongest in nearly 11 years, but jobs growth slows

Data showed the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent as expected. (Shutterstock)
Updated 16 July 2019
0

UK core pay growth strongest in nearly 11 years, but jobs growth slows

  • Core earnings have increased by 3.6 percent annually, beating the median forecast of 3.5 percent
  • The unemployment rate fell by 51,000 to just under 1.3 million

LONDON: British wages, excluding bonuses, rose at their fastest pace in more than a decade in the three months to May, official data showed, but there were some signs that the labor market might be weakening. Core earnings rose by an annual 3.6 percent, beating the median forecast of 3.5 percent in a Reuters poll of economists. Including bonuses, pay growth also picked up to 3.4 percent from 3.2 percent, stronger than the 3.1 percent forecast in the poll. Britain’s labor market has been a silver lining for the economy since the Brexit vote in June 2016, something many economists attribute to employers preferring to hire workers that they can later lay off over making longer-term commitments to investment. The pick-up in pay has been noted by the Bank of England which says it might need to raise interest rates in response, assuming Britain can avoid a no-deal Brexit. Tuesday’s data showed the unemployment rate remained at 3.8 percent as expected, its joint-lowest since the three months to January 1975. The number of people out of work fell by 51,000 to just under 1.3 million. But the growth in employment slowed to 28,000, the weakest increase since the three months to August last year and vacancies fell to their lowest level in more than a year. Some recent surveys of companies have suggested employers are turning more cautious about hiring as Britain approaches its new Brexit deadline of Oct. 31. Both the contenders to be prime minister say they would leave the EU without a transition deal if necessary. A survey published last week showed that companies were more worried about Brexit than at any time since the decision to leave the European Union and they planned to reduce investment and hiring. “The labor market continues to be strong,” ONS statistician Matt Hughes said. “Regular pay is growing at its fastest rate for nearly 11 years in cash terms and its quickest for over three years after taking account of inflation.” The BoE said in May it expected wage growth of 3 percent at the end of this year.