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N. Korean defector: Most people have no loyalty to Kim Jong Un

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TOKYO: The North Korean soldier who defected to the South last year is a general's son but says most Northerners his age have no loyalty to the regime's leader Kim Jong Un, according to a Japanese newspaper.

Mr Oh Chong Song's dash across the border at the Panmunjom truce village in the Demilitarised Zone - under fire from his comrades - made headlines last year and saw him hospitalised with serious injuries.

The 25-year-old is the son of a major-general, Japan's Sankei Shimbun reported, in what it said was the defector's first media interview.

But despite his privileged birth, 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.

"Probably 80 per cent of my generation is indifferent and has no loyalty," Mr Oh 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."

Mr Oh denied media reports in the South that he was wanted for murder in the North.

He had been drinking on his way back to his post and broke through a checkpoint, the Sankei reported.

"I feared I could be executed if I went back so I crossed the border," he said, adding he had no regrets about defecting.

Japanese intelligence officials confirmed Mr Oh's identity.

The geopolitical landscape around the Korean peninsula has shifted 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," Mr Oh said.

He understands the former comrades who shot him.

"If they didn't shoot they would face heavy punishment," he said. "If I were them, I would have done the same." - AFP