SEOUL — The South Korean navy mentioned on Sunday that an unidentified particular person had crossed the Demilitarized Zone into North Korea, its newest safety lapse at one of many world’s most closely armed borders.
Footage of the particular person climbing a tall barbed-wire fence — the southernmost of a number of fences within the 2.5-mile-wide buffer zone separating the Koreas — was captured by South Korean cameras at 6:40 p.m. Saturday, and sensors on the fence triggered an alarm, the navy mentioned in a briefing to the information media.
Nevertheless, the breach went unnoticed till 9:20 p.m., when the navy noticed the particular person within the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, as it’s generally identified. At 10:40 p.m., the particular person crossed the navy demarcation line, the border throughout the DMZ, placing her or him on North Korean soil, the navy mentioned. It was solely afterward that the navy found the proof of the preliminary fence-crossing.
There was no fast public response from North Korea. South Korea mentioned it had notified the North’s navy concerning the crossing however had but to obtain a reply.
The South’s navy mentioned it was nonetheless making an attempt to find out who the border-crosser was — whether or not a South Korean citizen, a North Korean spy or sad defector going dwelling, or another risk. No South Korean troopers had been lacking from their items alongside the jap a part of the border in Gangwon Province, the place the breach occurred, the navy mentioned.
Defections throughout the DMZ are uncommon and harmful. The two Koreas have technically been at battle for many years, the Korean War having been halted in 1953 with a truce, not a peace treaty. The DMZ is bristling with fences, sensors, minefields, sentry posts and armed patrols, and almost two million troops are prepared for battle on each side. At evening, the southern fringe of the buffer zone is flooded with high-powered lights.
Whenever a breach happens and border guards fail to apprehend the would-be crosser, alarms are raised on each side of the border. In 2017, North Korean troops unleashed a hail of bullets in a failed effort to cease a fellow soldier who defected to the South by dashing via Panmunjom, the so-called truce village that straddles the border.
Crossings from south to north are even rarer. When a North Korean defector who had been dwelling within the South fled again to his hometown within the North by swimming throughout a river in 2020, North Korea locked down the whole city for concern he may need introduced within the coronavirus.
Later that 12 months, North Korea brought about outrage in the South when its troops shot and killed a South Korean fisheries official in waters close to the border. The South, which mentioned the official had been making an attempt to defect, accused the North Koreans of burning his physique at sea; the North admitted killing him, however mentioned that its soldier couldn’t discover the physique and had solely burned his floating machine, for disease-control functions.
North Korean border guards had been reported to be underneath shoot-to-kill orders to forestall the coronavirus from being introduced into the nation.
Some 33,800 North Koreans have defected to the South since famine struck the North within the Nineteen Nineties, however few crossed the border straight. Almost all of them first fled to China, finally coming to South Korea by the use of a 3rd nation in Southeast Asia.
The jap a part of the border, snaking via rugged mountains, has been probably the most susceptible to safety breaches.
In 2012, a defecting North Korean soldier not solely scaled barbed-wire border fences with out being detected, however needed to knock on the doorways of South Korean barracks to get consideration. After that embarrassment, the South Korean navy put in extra surveillance gear, together with the digital sensors, on the border.
But crossings within the east continued. In November 2020, one other North Korean defector, a former gymnast, crawled over the southernmost fence and was not captured till a day later, when he was discovered half a mile additional south after an intensive manhunt.
Last February, a defector in a moist go well with swam down the jap coast, going undetected till he got here ashore within the South and was discovered strolling alongside a street.
Such lapses have ruined the careers of navy commanders in a single day. For that purpose, officers assigned to the jap a part of the border usually discuss with the posting as a “graveyard shift.”