KOREA TIMES, CHOSUN ILBO, YONHAP (South Korea)

Worldcrunch

PYONGYANG – A “large number” of soldiers are deserting the North Korean ranks due to the growing tensions with its southern neighbor, US sanctions and insufficient food supplies, according to a South Korean official source.

The number of deserters stationed in the frontlines has multiplied by seven to eight times in recent months, the official told the Korea Times, as a standoff hardens over the North's decision to test nuclear missiles and the West's response with tighter sanctions.

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A North Korean soldier (Edward N. Johnson)

The AWOL troops are reported to be mostly low-level soldiers displeased by the lack of food supplies and concerned by the joint US and South Korean military exercises. “Frequent training without offering enough food may have led to their desertions,” says the source relayed by another South Korean news outlet Yonhap.

Kim Jong-Un visited the front Tuesday to rally his troops, telling them to “drive the enemy into a fire pit if so ordered,” quoted Chosun Ilbo.

This desertions comes as the tensions rise between both Koreas: the standing non-aggression pacts have recently been revoked by the North Korean authorities and unprecedented airforce maneuvers have been launched.

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