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Despite war threats, N. Korean border units hit by growing AWOLs
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- Despite repeated war threats from Pyongyang, an increasing number of North Korean soldiers have gone AWOL from their front-line combat units in recent months, sources in Seoul said Tuesday, in a possible sign of rising discontent in the rank and file suffering from grueling winter training and food shortages.

"A recent analysis revealed the number of deserters in front-line military units has increased by seven to eight times compared to the same period of the previous year," a source said, asking for anonymity as he is not allowed to talk about military information. "Military and government officials are closely looking into the cause of the rise in desertions."


Front-line troops are grappling with difficulties in hunting down runaway soldiers while carrying out extensive drills in response to South Korea-U.S. joint exercises, the source said.