SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The South Korean military said on Sunday that an unidentified person had crossed the heavily fortified border into North Korea.
The person had previously been spotted by surveillance equipment in the eastern part of the border, known as the demilitarized zone, but avoided being captured by South Korean troops on Saturday evening. Surveillance then detected the person crossing the border, Joint Staff officers said.
South Korea sent a message to North Korea on Sunday morning to ensure the safety of the person, but the North did not respond, the officers said requesting anonymity, citing the department’s rules.
It was not clear whether this was a rare case of a South Korean hoping to defect to the North, or whether it could be a North Korean who briefly entered the South Korean territory for some reason before returning to the North.
In September 2020, North Korea shot dead a South Korean fisheries official found floating in its waters along an ill-marked maritime border. South Korea has said North Korean troops have been ordered to shoot anyone crossing the border illegally to protect themselves from the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier in 2020, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un placed a border town under total lockdown after a North Korean defector with COVID-19-like symptoms returned home. The fate of this defector, who had lived in South Korea, is not known.
North Korea on Saturday announced it had decided to prioritize strict virus restrictions at a high-profile ruling party meeting last week.
The two Koreas are divided along the world’s most armed border, called the demilitarized zone. An estimated 2 million mines are dotted in and near the 248 kilometer (155 mile) long and 4 kilometer (2.5 mile) wide DMZ, which is also guarded by wire fences. barbed wire, tank traps and combat troops on both sides.
Defection via the DMZ is rare. At the height of their Cold War rivalry, the two Koreas sent agents and spies to each other’s territory via the DMZ, but no such incident has been reported in recent years.
About 34,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the late 1990s to avoid poverty or political oppression, but a large majority of them have come via China and South Asian countries. -East.
North Korea has yet to report any coronavirus cases as experts questioned its claim of a perfect case.
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