A North Korean man in diving gear swam to South Korea on Tuesday in an apparent bid to defect from Kim Jong Un’s North Korea, the South Korean military said Wednesday.
The man, who is reported to be in his 20s, and a civilian, appeared to have swam across the maritime border and crawled through a drainage pipe beneath a barbed-wire fence, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a press release obtained by the country’s JoongAng Daily newspaper.
He was first spotted on closed-circuit surveillance cameras passing a military checkpoint at 4:20 a.m. but was not captured until three hours later when he had entered the restricted civilian-control zone, the military said. The area is located south of the 2.5-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, that acts as a buffer between the two Koreas.
The JCS said a diving suit and fins were found on the beach in Goseong, Gangwon, where he first came ashore.
The apparent defection would be the second in a matter of months after a North Korean man climbed a border fence in November and continued half a mile before the South captured him.