A NORTH KOREAN man has crossed the demilitarised zone into South Korea and was in Seoul’s custody early Thursday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
There was no immediate word on the man’s identity or the reasons for his apparent defection across the heavily fortified border.
The military said the man was spotted moving towards the South after crossing the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) late on Wednesday night.
“The military has obtained custody of a person in accordance with procedures,” the JCS said in a brief statement.
“The unidentified person is a North Korean man and the relevant government agency is questioning him on how he crossed the border and his motives,” it added.
“No particular North Korean military movement is seen across the border,” it continued.
More than 30,000 North Koreans have escaped from the reclusive state to the South since the two were separated by war more than 65 years ago, according to government data, many of them driven by prolonged economic hardship.
Pyongyang is under heavy economic sanctions because of its multiple nuclear tests and missile launches, the latest of which came this week.
It denounces defectors — who are an important source for accounts of the regime’s brutal treatment of its citizens — as “human scum”.
Contact between the North and South has been minimal since February, when a second summit between the US and Pyongyang collapsed without an agreement over possible denuclearisation and sanctions relief.
The border is the Cold War’s last frontier, separating the nuclear-armed North from the democratic and economically advanced South. © Agence France-Presse