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A man who walked across the heavily fortified border into North Korea on Saturday was likely the defector who had crossed the Demilitarised Zone little over a year ago and settled in South Korea. Picture: BLOOMBERG
A man who walked across the heavily fortified border into North Korea on Saturday was likely the defector who had crossed the Demilitarised Zone little over a year ago and settled in South Korea. Picture: BLOOMBERG

A man who walked across the heavily fortified border into North Korea on Saturday was likely the defector who had crossed the Demilitarized Zone little over a year ago and settled in South Korea. 

The person on surveillance footage looked “almost identical” to the defector who crossed South Korea’s eastern border in November 2020, a defense ministry official said Monday. The person was in his 30s, the official said at the Seoul briefing, without elaborating.  

In November​ 2020​, a former gymnast​ escaped North Korea by jumping the 3-metre fence that divides the two sides. The authorities apprehended him a day later, and helped him resettle in the country.

South Korea’s military discovered the person had crossed the country’s general outpost fence at about 6.40pm on Saturday but troops sent to respond failed to locate the defector. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it spotted the person on a thermal imaging device hours later, just before the defector entered northern territory at about 10.40pm.

Seoul sent a message to Pyongyang on Sunday to try to ensure the person’s safety. North Korea hasn’t yet responded, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan told a regular briefing Monday. 

South Korea is working with the relevant authorities to identify the person, JCS spokesperson Kim Jun-rak said at the briefing, adding that the North Korean military had so far showed no unusual activity. The ministry has assigned a team to investigate the matter, he added. 

Bloomberg. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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