A Seoul official said, during a daring six-hour swim across one of the world’s largest fortified frontiers, a North Korean defector wore a diving suit and fins, and was only captured after seemingly going to sleep.
Despite showing multiple times on CCTV after it arrived and caused alarms, attracting strong criticism from media and opposition MPs, Soth Korea failed. South Korean forces did not spot the man’s audacious trap.
The guy, who used diving gear to work his way by sea across the Demilitarized Zone separating the peninsula, wasn’t really caught for a further 3 hours, even after his activity was detected.
“He presumably had swum for about six hours, wearing a padded jacket inside a diving suit and fins. His clothing appeared to have kept him warm and allowed him to stay afloat,” an unnamed Joint Chiefs of Staff official said.
Tidal currents were working in his favor, the official said, and before making his way through a drainage channel under the barbed-wire fences that run along the shore, he abandoned much of his supplies.
He was caught eight times over or more three hours by surveillance cameras, twice sounding audible warnings, but no border guards heard.
Eventually, a manhunt was conducted, and three hours later, seemingly sleeping, he was discovered by soldiers, his face mask stuck in a tree.
More About The Korean Matter:
The defector, believed to have been a Korean in the North, has expressed a desire to defect, officials say.
The military-recognized troops had “failed to abide by due procedures” and had promised to improve border defense.
And Defense Minister Suh Wook admitted at a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday that surveillance systems in the region were “malfunctioning and outdated”
Just a handful of Northern defectors have ever crossed the DMZ directly or swam past the maritime border—even though the last such publicly reported incident occurred in November when security concerns were also posed.
Instead, the large bulk of defectors move to neighbor China first, often staying there for years before starting their way through third countries to the South.
Over the years, more than 30,000 North Korean people have fled to the South, but numbers plunged to only 229 last year after Pyongyang enforced a strict security shutdown to defend itself from the coronavirus that first appeared in China, a neighbor and main ally.
The incident was evidence the South Korean military was “close to a near collapse”, the said conservative Chosun Ilbo newspaper, on Wednesday.
“Is this unit the only unit not doing its job properly? We think not,” it added in an editorial.