Wednesday, 03 March, 2021


Former North Korean gymnast says he leaped over 10-foot fence

South Korean soldiers walk along a fence of the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea on the South Korean island of Gyodong Report North Korean Gymnast Escaped Country by Leaping over 10 Foot Fence 11 ED JONES AFP via Getty Images Frances Martel25 Nov 2020
Bennie Garza | 27 November, 2020, 05:47

The audacious defection sparked alarm that the high security demilitarised zone (DMZ) that separates North from South had been successfully crossed.

He was captured by South Korean border guards 14 hours later and his motivations for crossing have been under investigation ever since.

South Korea military officials vowed to investigate why sensors on the fences failed to detect the man, according to the news agency.

Seoul officials, who are still questioning the man, had him recreate his jump twice, according to the publication.

Earlier this month, authorities captured a man who said he'd escaped from the North by jumping over a border fence. The military previously said the fences the man crossed appeared pressed down, but had no evidence of being cut or otherwise modified, the newspaper said. It is reported that he claims to be a civilian looking to defect.

There has been strong criticism over the issue in the South as it's seen as a failure to respond to a potential North Korean infiltration.

If the man's story is accurate, it's all the more remarkable because he managed to avoid detection by North Korean troops, evade landmines that litter the DMZ, and not trigger sensors on the surrounding fences.

Other Korean media said authorities believed the defector likely scaled an iron pole on the fence then jumped down the iron side.

Seung Cheol Choi, a defector who graduated from North Korea's elite Kim Il Sung University, said service jobs like pizza delivery in the South were not for him. His body was reportedly burned by North Korean officials, prompting a rare acknowledgement by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

South Korea has not stopped making phone calls to the North following the demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in June, Hankook Ilbo reported Tuesday.

The conclusions of the internal investigation into the unit have not been made public. Very few of the 31,000 who have fled do so via the DMZ, preferring instead to enter China then arrive in South Korea via a third country.

More than 32,000 people have defected from the oppressive North Korean regime since 1948.

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