Friday, 27 Nov 2020

North Korean defector detained at highly guarded border by South Korean military

A North Korean man has been detained at the South Korean border after he crossed the heavily armed land border separating the two countries.

The man was spotted crossing barbed wire fences by South Korean soldiers shortly before 7.30pm.

He was detained at 9.50am on Wednesday November 5 after surveillance footage spotted him at the eastern end of the demilitarised zone.

It is unclear who the man is or why he crossed the land border, but it is understood South Korea will give the individual an opportunity to defect.

South Korea's Joint Chief of Staff confirmed the military captured a man to Yonhap News Agency, which is based in Seoul, South Korea.

In the statement, the Joint Chief of Staff said: "Our military safely captured the man at around 9:50 a.m.

"In coordination with related authorities, we will carry out investigation into the man, including how he crossed the border and if he has the intention to defect to the South

"No unusual moves by the North Korean military have been detected."

North Korean state media have not reported on the possible defection, despite very few of the 31,000 defectors in the last two decades doing so via the DMZ.

South Korea resumed tours at the border, which has separated the countries since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war, this week over concerns of an African swine fever outbreak.

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The South also cited concerns over the spread of coronavirus, a disease which has spread to every corner of the globe apart from North Korea, according to Kim Jong-un.

A ceremony was held to mark the tour's resumption but South Korean unification minister, Lee In-young, didn't mentioned the suspected defection.

Instead, he called for free travel among all Koreans within the DMZ and for recently severed inter-Korean hotlines to be reinstated.

Mr In-young said: "Re-establishing round-the-clock communication channels would be a basis for restoring inter-Korean relations."

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