SEOUL — The South Korean navy stated on Sunday that an unidentified individual 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 individual 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 stated in a briefing to the information media.
Nevertheless, the breach went unnoticed till 9:20 p.m., when the navy noticed the individual within the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, as it’s generally identified. At 10:40 p.m., the individual crossed the navy demarcation line, the border inside the DMZ, placing her or him on North Korean soil, the navy stated. It was solely afterward that the navy found the proof of the preliminary fence crossing.
There was no instant public response from North Korea. South Korea stated it had notified the North’s navy in regards to the crossing however had but to obtain a reply.
The South’s navy stated it was nonetheless attempting to find out who the border-crosser was — whether or not it was a South Korean citizen, a North Korean spy or an unhappy defector going dwelling, or another chance. No South Korean troopers have been lacking from their models alongside the jap a part of the border in Gangwon Province, the place the breach occurred, the navy stated.
Defections throughout the DMZ are uncommon and harmful. The two Koreas have technically been at struggle 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 practically two million troops are prepared for battle on either 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 either 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 by 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 residing within the South fled again to his hometown within the North by swimming across a river in 2020, North Korea locked down all the city for concern he might 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 stated the official had been attempting to defect, accused the North Koreans of burning his physique at sea; the North admitted killing him, however stated that its soldier couldn’t discover the physique and had solely burned his floating gadget for disease-control functions.
North Korean border guards have been reported to be below 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 1990s, however few crossed the border immediately. Almost all of them first fled to China, ultimately coming to South Korea by means of a 3rd nation in Southeast Asia.
The jap a part of the border, snaking by 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, but additionally 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.
In February, a defector in a wet suit 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 motive, officers assigned to the jap a part of the border typically check with the posting as a “graveyard shift.”