N.Korean crosses armed border in potential defection to South

N.Korean crosses armed border in potential defection to South

South Korea’s military said on Tuesday it had captured a North Korean individual who crossed the heavily fortified border between the two countries in a rare potential defection amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The person was found on Tuesday morning near a checkpoint on the eastern side of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) separating the rival Koreas, prompting an urgent search operation, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

“We have taken that unidentified individual into custody and are conducting an investigation,” the JCS said in a statement.

The rare border crossing came as North Korea’s prolonged lockdowns rolled back the number of defectors arriving in South Korea to an all-time low last year.

In July, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared an emergency and sealed off a border town after a person with COVID-19 symptoms illegally crossed the border into the North from the South.

North Korea has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases, though Seoul officials have cast doubt on there being zero cases citing the country’s active exchanges with China, where the virus first emerged, prior to its border closure.

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