The defector flees back to North Korea

Crossing the border in a demilitarized zone

It rarely happens: a South Korean citizen crosses the heavily fortified border into North Korea. “Last night, an unknown person fled over the eastern side of the demilitarized zone to North Korea,” the South Korean military representative said on Sunday.


In November 2020, a North Korean man managed to escape to the South. Now he has apparently returned to the dictatorship through the mine belt.

The man is said to have crossed the highly secured dividing line as early as November 2020. The South Korean military faces uncomfortable questions about the security situation.

The person on New Year’s Day in South Korea Arrived in North KoreaYou may have crossed the heavily fortified border for the second time. He is said to be the same defector who came from North Korea to South Korea at the end of 2020, the South Korean Defense Ministry announced on Monday. Try to confirm the relevant information.

The pictures look like a maverick gymnast

A ministry official said the statement concerned a former North Korean national who was arrested south of the border in November 2020. The man had identified himself as a former gymnast and had told investigators that he had scaled the barbed wire fence of the flood.

According to the army, a surveillance camera showed, on Saturday, a person moving towards the territory of North Korea in the eastern part of the border. The ministry official said the person’s appearance matched the former defector. A thermal sensor detected four people in the northern part of the border after they crossed the border. This may indicate that three North Korean soldiers took the defector away from the border. Nothing is known about a person’s fate.

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South Korean soldiers patrol the border with North Korea on January 2, 2022. The day before, a North Korean is said to have crossed the border a second time. Now back to the North.

Photo: Keystone

He was reportedly suffering from economic problems

South Korea has asked North Korea via a military hotline to ensure the person’s safety. According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, North Korea responded that it had received the news of South Korea but did not address the defector. In September 2020, North Korea shot and killed a South Korean fishing officer who was floating in the waters along the sea border. According to South Korea, North Korean forces had orders to shoot anyone who crossed the border illegally to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

According to South Korean media reports, the former gymnast from North Korea worked as a cleaner in South Korea and was experiencing economic hardship. The Defense Ministry declined to confirm these reports, but said that an initial investigation revealed that he was not involved in espionage or other suspicious activity in South Korea. The ministry did not comment on the reason for the man’s return to the north.

Only 30 of the 34,000 defectors returned to the North

According to the South Korean authorities, some 34,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea for economic and political reasons since the late 1990s. Only about 30 have returned to North Korea in the past decade. Observers believe that the returnees had difficulty adjusting to life in South Korea or were blackmailed by North Korean agents who threatened to harm their loved ones if they did not return.

It is rare to get around the highly secured border, which is about 250 kilometers long. The vast majority of North Korean defectors came to South Korea via China and Southeast Asian countries.

The border crossing, on Saturday, raised questions about the security situation in South Korea, as the soldiers did not notice the person entering the demilitarized zone (DMZ) for hours, although surveillance cameras recorded the person. The army confirmed sending soldiers, but was unable to locate the person. The South Korean military has faced similar criticism in recent years when the North Koreans traversed the DMZ unnoticed to bypass it. Someone knocked on the door of a South Korean barracks.

dpa / uri


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