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Defector's border crossing captured by military's surveillance equipment

All News 11:26 July 28, 2020

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean defector was caught on military surveillance equipment as he fled across the border to his communist homeland, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Tuesday.

The border crossing by the 24-year-old man, surnamed Kim, became known after North Korea revealed Sunday that a "runaway" returned home in the border city of Kaesong with coronavirus symptoms and the entire city was blocked off to prevent spread of the virus.

South Korean officials said Kim had been under investigation over allegations he raped a female defector.

"The JCS is closely analyzing a clip recorded on our monitoring equipment. Once we get the analysis results, we will give a clear explanation leaving no doubt whatsoever," JCS spokesperson Col. Kim Jun-rak said during a regular press briefing.

The defector is believed to have passed through a waterway on the western border island of Ganghwa to evade South Korean border guards before reaching the shore and swimming a few kilometers into North Korea.

Following the incident, the military is looking into the border security failure.

"We will analyze the JCS's inspection results and take necessary steps," the ministry said in a report to the National Assembly. "After checking the facts, we will take stern action so that there are no suspicions of a cover-up."

The latest incident brought the military under fire, as it has already faced intense public criticism for a series of security breaches indicating lax discipline.

Last year, a wooden boat carrying four North Koreans arrived at a South Korean port on the east coast without being detected, prompting Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo to apologize.

This photo, taken on July 27, 2020, shows a drain that runs under barbed wire fences in the northern part of Ganghwa Island, west of Seoul, which may have been used by a North Korean defector to return home. The military said a bag belonging to the 24-year-old man, only identified by his family name Kim, was found near the drain. Authorities speculated that the defector swam to North Korea. (Yonhap)


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