An individual from South Korea crossed the heavily armed border to the North in a rare defection, according to the country’s military.
Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said that an individual whose nationality has not been identified crossed the military demarcation line (MDL) from Gangwon Province in South Korea around 10:40 p.m. on New Year’s Day, reported NK News.
The MDL bisects the 4-km-wide demilitarised zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas.
The border is one of the most guarded in the world. It is surrounded by electric and barbed wire fencing, armed guards patrol and surveillance cameras are in constant use. As well as the area is filled with landmines.
Authorities said that surveillance cameras captured the individual crossing at 6.40pm.
South Korea’s ministry of national defence said that the cameras also activated other monitoring equipment, but an initial response unit did not find anything out of order.
The crossover was only detected at about 9.20pm.
While the reasons for the crossing over is not known officials said that efforts to capture the individual have failed.
The military added that they have not confirmed whether the individual is alive or not.
A notice has been sent to the North Korean side through the two countries’ military hotline on Sunday morning “to protect” the individual, the JCS said.
This came just a month after the country implemented shoot-at-sight orders around border areas in to prevent anyone with a possible Covid-19 infection from entering the country.
North Korea has imposed strict border controls as anti-coronavirus pandemic measures even though it maintains a questionable claim that the country has no Covid-19 infections.
While the DMZ is a heavily militarised border on both sides laden with land mines, there have been several high profile crossings in recent years.
In July 2020 a North Korean re-entered the country through a storm drain after living in the South, reported NK News.