Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 12:42 GMT
South Korean PoWs escape after 45 years
The tense border between north and south
Two South Korean soldiers captured during the Korean War have escaped and returned home after nearly five decades in captivity.
The soldiers were sent to work in coal mines, but recently fled via an unnamed third country.
The soldiers had been classified dead by South Korea's Defence Ministry.
An official at the National Security Planning agency said the two prisoners of war had returned to South Korea "through a third country".
The term "third country" is generally taken to indicate China which shares a land border with North Korea.
But Beijing has an agreement with North Korea to repatriate any of its citizens and is keen not to be identified in any defections.
'More than 130 PoWs still captive'
South Korea said last month that more than 130 prisoners were still in captivity across the border.
The two Koreas remain technically at war as the conflict only ended with the signing of an armistice rather than a permanent peace treaty.
Estimates vary for the number of South Koreans taken prisoner in the war.
South Korea's military says at least 28,000 troops were captured but North Korea says it only detained about 7,000 who were handed back.