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North Korean defector crawls across DMZ that is one of the most heavily guarded areas on Earth

A North Korean defector was caught on camera crossing a DMZ that is one of the most heavily guarded areas on Earth, then wandered around the South Korean side for six hours before finally being noticed.

The man, who has not been identified by South Korean authorities, evaded detection for much of his treacherous journey last week, which involved swimming and crawling through a tunnel. 

Grainy video footage, obtained by South Korean broadcaster TV Chosun, shows a dark figure passing under a road sign as bright lights flash.

The grainy video footage, obtained by South Korean broadcaster TV Chosun, shows a dark figure passing under a road sign as bright lights flash

Wearing a diving suit and fins, the man had swum for around six hours in the ocean in the dead of night, coming ashore almost two miles inside South Korean territory, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said this week in a report cataloguing a series of failures by border security troops.

He then passed under a fence by climbing through a drainage tunnel that security forces had been unaware of, the report said.

Despite triggering alarms and appearing on surveillance cameras multiple times, the man was not noticed until around three hours after he came ashore, the JCS said. 

It took troops several more hours to track him down and detain him.

The delays in detecting the man drew fresh criticism of border security, after a similar publicly known case in November, when a North Korean man defected to the South via the eastern DMZ.

Defections across the DMZ are rare, as the area is closely guarded by troops from both sides, and is strewn in many places with barbed wire, landmines, and other barriers.

After North Korea closed its border with China last year to guard against a coronavirus outbreak, defections through the more usual routes have slowed to a trickle.

Wearing a diving suit and fins, the man had swum for around six hours in the ocean in the dead of night, coming ashore almost two miles inside South Korean territory

In the other direction, North Korean soldiers and police were ordered to 'shoot on sight' anyone within half a mile of the country's border with China in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.

Pyongyang sources only learned of the draconian new measure less than a day before it took effect.

Police in the city of Hoeryong said they would kill anyone within such a distance of the boundary 'regardless of their reason for being there', RFA reported. 

The policy is being enforced along the entire 880-mile border until the end of the pandemic to try and prevent transmission of Covid-19 through contact with people from China.

The government has sent ammunition to the police to help carry out the ruthless policy, with sources claiming 'no one will be held responsible for shooting deaths' that occur within such a distance. 

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