Conflicts & War

South Korea captures suspected defector from North near armed border

Seoul, Nov 4 (efe-epa).- South Korean military on Wednesday said it had taken into custody a suspected intruder who crossed the heavily fortified border with North Korea.

The unidentified man crossed the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, technically still at war, late on Tuesday near the eastern border county of Goseong, about 150 km northeast of Seoul.

Officials said the border crossing was detected by surveillance devices, prompting the military to sound a “Jindotgae” alert, issued for possible infiltration by armed guerrillas from North Korea.

However, Yonhap news agency citing a military statement said the border security forces had detected “no unusual moves” by the North Korean military.

“Our military safely captured the man around 9.50 a.m. In coordination with related authorities, we will carry out investigation into the man,” the statement from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The statement said that the military authorities would also probe how the man crossed the border and if he wished to defect to South Korea.

The statement, however, did not specify whether or not the intruder is a soldier or a civilian, though officials, according to Yonhap, said he did not wear a military uniform.

The statement said search operations were underway and, “additional details will be provided later.”

Several people, including North Korean soldiers, have managed to defect to the South in recent years through the DMZ that has a strong presence of troops on both sides of the border.

The number of North Korean defectors reached a record low this year due to the restrictions triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to South Korean officials said in July.

The authorities estimated that between April and June, only 12 deserters entered South Korea, which is 96 percent down on the same period last year and the lowest quarterly figure since the Seoul government began to record the data in 2003.

Overall, more than 33,000 North Koreans have defected and hold South Korean citizenship now.

One of the most spectacular defections caught on camera took place on Nov.13, 2017 when a soldier drove up to the border within the Joint Security Area (JSA), the only boundary point where the army men from the countries stand face-to-face.

After driving his vehicle to the borderline, the soldier ran south to the other side amid a hail of bullets from his North Korean fellows. He took cover under a building before soldiers from the South came to his rescue. EFE-EPA


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