‘N. Korean who jumped border fence into South was gymnast’

26 Novembre, 2020, 03:52 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • North Korean soldiers walk along the river bank of the North Korean town of Sinuiju opposite side to the Chinese border city of Dandong Tuesday Dec. 20 2011

The lack of opportunities for Choi, who said he was a medical doctor in North Korea, forced him to rethink his sense of belonging in the South. Choi immigrated to Britain in 2008, according to the report. This month, a North Korean man has been arrested for crossing one such fence without triggering an alarm.

He had been detected at least twice by South Korea's surveillance cameras as he loitered near the fence - but still managed to get across even after a heightened alert was issued with extra troops flooding the area, the Yonhap news service said, sparking an ongoing investigation into apparent failures.

The last known North Korean defection took place in August 2019, when a soldier crossed the DMZ. Shortly after the incident, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said there were no signs of significant damage to the fences where the man had crossed.

According to local media, the fence looked pressed down but "didn't appear to have been modified or cut".

The man, found wearing "blue civilian clothes", surrendered to South Korean security forces about a mile from the border November 4, according to the publication.

The man has since expressed a desire to defect to South Korea, but officials have not revealed the motives behind his escape from the North or why it took him 14 hours after crossing the southern fence to surrender to South Korean troops. He had been wandering an area strewn with land mines and claimed to be a civilian seeking to defect.

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He was a lot more fortunate than the North Korean soldier who ran across the demilitarized zone at the truce village of Panmunjom 40 miles north of Seoul three years ago.

Officials also do not know how the man avoided minefields on both sides of the border, UPI reported.

Other Korean media said authorities believed the defector likely scaled an iron pole on the fence then jumped down the iron side. His body was reportedly burned by North Korean officials, prompting a rare acknowledgement by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The conclusions of the internal investigation into the unit have not been made public.

South Korea's Ministry of Unification says a total of 33,523 North Korean defectors have entered South Korea since 1948, which was the start of the official division between the two countries.

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