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North Korean Pilot May Have Been Defecting When He Crashed

Fighter Jet Went Down In China About 90 Miles From N. Korean Border

Some sources in South Korea are quietly speculating that the pilot of North Korean military jet which went down in China near the Korean border may have been defecting.

Details are sketchy coming out of China, but the plane is thought to be a Russian-made MiG 21. The accident occurred Tuesday, and the pilot was the only person on board the aircraft at the time of the crash. The Chinese government says he was killed when the plane impacted the ground in Liaoning Province about 93 miles from the Chinese border with North Korea.

One intelligence source told The Korea Times that the North Korean military has reduced food rations, and that the pilot may have been defecting simply out of hunger. Recent currency reform in North Korea failed, and there are reports that the nation is having a difficult time feeding its populace. Defections have reportedly increased this year, with most escaping on foot to China.

The paper reports that North Korean pilots have defected with their airplanes twice before in the past 27 years. Both of those pilots fled to South Korea in military airplanes. Sources said this aircraft was more likely headed to Russian but the pilot got lost and went down in China instead.

FMI: www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/18902.htm

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