(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 7 paras, photo)
By Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean man was taken into custody after crossing into South Korea via the eastern border, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Wednesday, amid a possibility that he could have sought to defect to the South.
The man, whose identity was withheld, was captured more than 10 hours after he crossed the border in the eastern county of Goseong late Tuesday. His crossing was detected on the South's surveillance equipment, prompting the military to launch extensive search operations.
"Our military safely captured the man at around 9:50 a.m. In coordination with related authorities, we will carry out investigation into the man, including how he crossed the border and if he has the intention to defect to the South," the JCS said in a statement.
"No unusual moves by the North Korean military have been detected," the military added.
It is not immediately known if he is a soldier or a civilian, though officials said he did not wear a military uniform.
For the search operations, troops were placed on the "Jindogae" alert, which is issued to cope with a possible intrusion of armed guerrillas from North Korea, officials said, adding that the alert would be lifted later after analyzing the situation in front-line areas further.
The man appears to have crossed over the barbed wire fence along the border, and part of the fence was damaged in the process, military sources said.
It is yet to be known if advanced surveillance equipment installed along the tense border worked properly at that time.
The man was found within the civilian control line near the border, but it is still far south of a general outpost (GOP) located outside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
The last known defection by North Koreans took place in July 2019, when a soldier from the communist country crossed the military demarcation line to the South.
The military has vowed to beef up its surveillance posture and tighten discipline among service members in the wake of a series of security breaches recently.
In June 2019, a wooden boat carrying four North Koreans arrived at a South Korean port in the east coast town of Samcheok without being detected.
In July this year, a North Korean defector fled across the western side of the border to his communist homeland. The South Korean military had remained in the dark until North Korea reported the incident.
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