A resident of South Korea escaped to North Korea

South Korea’s military announced that an unidentified compatriot had crossed the land border with North Korea despite hours of attempts to stop his intention to leave the country, Yonhap news agency reported Jan. 2.

“We launched an operation to capture the man in the demilitarized zone. But because of various geographical conditions, including mountainous terrain, we were unable to do so,” a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) official said on condition of anonymity.

After first locating the unknown man in the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas around 9:20 p.m. Saturday night, the military sent troops to the scene to capture the fugitive, but were unable to do so.

While trying to identify the fugitive with monitoring equipment, the military discovered that the unknown man had snuck through a barbed wire fence to enter the DMZ around 6:40 p.m. . That is, the military had been unaware of the border violation for several hours.

On Sunday morning, South Korean authorities sent a message to North Korea about the incident at the border, but the fate of the fugitive remains unclear. The DPRK is known to have a “shoot-to-kill” policy in place as part of tightening border controls against COVID-19.

In September 2020, a South Korean official was shot dead by DPRK border guards after disappearing from a patrol ship near the Yellow Sea border. This happened despite a promise by the South Korean military to overhaul the border defense system and equip it with more powerful surveillance equipment.

In late December, the South Korean Unification Ministry urged the DPRK authorities to start the new year, 2022, with joint actions to resume dialogue and cooperation. For his part, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, summing up the year, said it was necessary to win the “great death battle” in 2022.