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Defector: 'Young North Koreans indifferent to politics'

A former North Korean soldier, who risked his life to cross the heavily guarded border to defect to the South last year, said a majority of young North Koreans are indifferent to politics and the regime failed to keep people loyal to the leadership, in an interview with a Japanese media outlet.

"Inside North Korea, young people of my generation are indifferent to the political system and are not loyal to the leadership," said a 25-year-old ex-North Korean soldier, identified by his surname Oh, in an interview with Sankei Shimbun.

"If the regime feeds its people well, we will clap our hands, but it has failed to do so," said Oh.

He thought there would be a war between North Korea and the U.S. last year when tensions were intensifying over North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

"If tensions were growing at a higher (leadership) level, we felt the same," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged insults and threats earlier last year. Trump called Kim "Little Rocket Man" who is on a "suicide mission for himself and for his regime" in a speech for the United Nations General Assembly.

In June, Trump and Kim held an unexpected, historic summit in Singapore and agreed to ease tensions and work towards denuclearizing North Korea's nuclear weapons.

Oh said he joined the North Korean Army in 2010 and served as a driver at the Joint Security Area, located in the heavily guarded North-South border. His father was also as a major-general of the North Korea Army.

He decided to cross the border in fear of persecution after he had a problem with his friend and drank alcohol outside his duty place.

"I had a trouble with my friend, had a drink outside my place and just crossed the checkpoint," he said.

Oh drove a vehicle to cross a North Korean guard post toward the South Korean side. When the vehicle got stuck in a gutter close to the border, he jumped out of the vehicle and ran towards the South Korean side.

He was shot by his fellow soldiers and collapsed 50 meters south of the border. He was taken to a South Korean hospital afterward.

"All four of them who shot me are my friends. If they don't fire, they will receive heavy punishment. If I were them, I would shoot as well," he said.

He, shot multiple times including arms and abdomen, left the hospital in February, but still commute for treatment to the hospital.

In September, North and South Korea agreed to disarm the JSA under the military agreement signed by the leaders during a summit in Pyongyang.
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