South Korea has rarely defected across the armed border to North Korea Reuters


© Reuters. On April 24, 2018, a man stood near binoculars and tried to see the North Korean propaganda village Gijungdong at the Dora Observatory near the demilitarized zone separating the two North Koreas in Paju, South Korea. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji


Author Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters)-The South Korean military said on Sunday that a South Korean has rarely crossed the heavily guarded border to North Korea.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) stated that after the person was found on the east side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two North Koreas at 9.20pm (1220 GMT) on Saturday night, they launched a search operation.

“We have confirmed that the person crossed the border of the military demarcation line at 10:40 p.m. (1340 GMT) and defected to the north,” JCS said.

JCS stated that it could not confirm whether the person was still alive, but sent a notice to North Korea through the military hotline, requesting protection.

North Korea has adopted strict anti-coronavirus measures since the border closed in early 2020, but it is an illegal border crossing point in South Korea, although no infection has been confirmed.

After the North Korean army shot and killed a South Korean fishery official who disappeared at sea in September 2020, there was a public and political commotion. Pyongyang blamed anti-virus rules and apologized for it.

Two months ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared a state of emergency and sealed off a border town after he said that a North Korean defector with COVID-19 symptoms had crossed the border illegally from South Korea into North Korea.

North Korea’s long-term blockade and restrictions on inter-provincial movement have also pushed the number of defectors arriving in South Korea to the lowest point in history.

Since the failure of the 2019 summit, denuclearization negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington have stalled and cross-border relations have deteriorated.

Since the Korean War from 1950 to 1953 ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, South Korea and a United Nations force headed by the United States are still technically at war with North Korea.

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