The Seoul military said on Sunday that on New Year’s Day, an unidentified person entered North Korea from South Korea, which was a rare breach of the heavily guarded border between neighboring countries.
In the decades since the Korean War, North Korea’s years of repression and poverty have caused more than 30,000 people to flee to the south, but crossing in the other direction is extremely rare.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff stated on Sunday that the person was spotted by surveillance equipment in the demilitarized zone separating the Korean Peninsula at 9:20 local time on Saturday night.
It triggered a search operation by the military, but to no avail.
It added: “It has been confirmed that this person has crossed the military demarcation line and entered the north.”
A JCS official told reporters that the identity of this person has not yet been determined, adding that South Korean authorities sent a message to North Korea on the matter on Sunday.
He said that no abnormal activities by the North Korean military were found.
In 2020, North Korean troops shot to death and burned the body of a South Korean fisheries official who illegally crossed the maritime border that Pyongyang said.
In the same year, a North Korean who defected to South Korea three years ago sneaked back to the heavily guarded border.
His transit prompted North Korean officials to lock down the border city of Kaesong for fear that he might be infected with the coronavirus.
The vast majority of North Koreans who fled went to China first, and then to South Korea, usually through another country.
Only a few people dared to cross the demilitarized zone full of mines and a large number of military presences on both sides.