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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Plane crash could be sign of military unrest

South Korean intelligence officials are trying to determine the exact cause of Tuesday’s crash of a North Korean military aircraft in northeastern China, with some sources cautiously suggesting that it could indicate unrest within the North Korean military over economic difficulties.The plane, believed to be a Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jet, crashed into a cornfield in the Fushun Prefecture in the province of Liaoning about 150 kilometers from the border. The Chinese government said the pilot was killed in the crash, without releasing further information. Many analysts suspect the flight was a failed defection attempt.“Pilots are privileged jobs in North Korea,” an intelligence source said. “If it was a defection attempt, one of the theories is that he wanted to flee his country due to hunger as the military has reduced food rations.”Reports say it has become even harder for the impoverished nation to feed its people since its currency reform failed. Observers also say that it isn’t just ordinary people who are becoming poorer and struggling to feed themselves.“Social unrest is becoming rampant in North Korea,” the Chosun Ilbo reported Thursday, citing North Korean and Chinese sources. “An increasing number of North Koreans are openly criticizing their government and leader Kim Jong-il.”Defections have increased this year, with most people escaping by foot across the border into China. In two separate cases, in 1983 and 1996, North Korean air force captains flew their planes across the demilitarized zone into South Korea.Sources said that the aircraft was believed to have lost direction while flying to Russia after escaping North Korea.

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