A grainy video has emerged showing the moment a North Korean defector crawled through the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) fleeing to South Korea.
The man, who has not been identified by the South Korean military, was found wearing a dive suit and fins after swimming through the ocean for six hours before crossing a security fence through a drainage pipe.
The new footage obtained by South Korean broadcaster TV Chosun shows the defector slowly walking through one of the world’s most heavily guarded borders. The man spent three hours wandering through South Korean territory before he was spotted by troops, Reuters reports.
He crossed through North Korea’s fortified DMZ on February 16, according to the South Korean military.
In the video, a dark figure can be seen walking under road signs as a bright orange light flashes. The man came onto the shore 3km inside of South Korean territory, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who this week released a report outlining a series of failures by their own border security troops.
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The man then made his way underneath a fence going through a drain tunnel – a route the security forces didn’t know existed.
He appeared on surveillance footage multiple times and triggered security alarms, however he wasn’t noticed for a full three hours, according to the report. After being noticed by South Korean troops, they spent several more hours trying to track the defector down. When he was discovered he was detained.
South Korea’s border officials have faced criticism following the incident – a similarly public case occurred in November when a defector crossed the border through the eastern part of the DMZ.
Defections from North Korea to South Korea are rare, as the DMZ is heavily guarded with barbed wire and landmines.
A survey from the North Korean Refugees Foundation found 71 per cent of the North Koreans who defected to South Korea since 1998 are women.
It’s believed this is because North Korean women primarily work in service roles and become the breadwinners, according to NKNews.org.
Female defectors are often motivated by a desire to seek out better economic situations.