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Over a heavily guarded border: North Korea defector is probably returnees

Over a heavily guarded border
North Korea defector is probably returnees

A man breaks through the Korean border on New Year’s morning. He is walking the more unusual route from South to North Korea – and is apparently returning to his homeland, according to information from the South Korean Ministry of Defense.

The man who crossed the heavily fortified border from South to North Korea on New Year’s morning had probably fled North Korea beforehand. “We suspect that it is the same man who defected over the barbed wire fence in November 2020 to the south,” said a representative of the South Korean Ministry of Defense on Monday. The military launched a search, but did not find the man.

The South Korean military announced on Sunday that a stranger had “crossed the military demarcation line to the north”. Accordingly, surveillance systems had discovered the man on Saturday evening (local time). South Korea informed the north of the incident. According to the defense official, North Korea acknowledged receipt of the message but did not reply.

South Korean news agency Yonhap also quoted a Defense Department official as saying the man was “recognized as the same as the defector (as of November 2020).” Accordingly, it is believed that he worked as a cleaner in the south after his escape from the north.

While attempts to escape from the internationally isolated north to South Korea are not uncommon, it is very rare for people to attempt the opposite route. Usually, the escape does not take place via the border, which is fortified with mines and surveillance systems, but via the less monitored border to China.

The last time in 2020 was a man crossed the fortified border from the south to the north. At that time, too, it was a North Korean who had previously defected to the south. His crossing of the border prompted North Korean officials to cordon off the border town of Kaesong, fearing he might be infected with the coronavirus.

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