A heavily armed South Korean crossed the border into North Korea, apparently on the run.
According to the South Korean military command, the fugitive was able to escape even after hours and hours of being searched for by South Korean forces. He was seen in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which separates the two Koreas, around 9 p.m. (local). time).
There is no information about whether this unknown person is still alive, but the South Korean military command asked neighbors to the north to protect him.
During the pandemic, the North Korean government has adopted a shoot-at-first-sight strategy whenever it tries to enter the country, with the aim of preventing the spread of COVID-19.
In September 2020, North Korean forces fired on a South Korean fishing boat, which was lost in the area and later burned. The incident angered neighboring countries, and North Korea issued a rare apology, attributing the error to a strict anti-coronavirus policy.
Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared a national emergency during the pandemic and locked down a city after a North Korean national who had symptoms of COVID-19 fled South Korea to the neighboring country in the North.
The restrictions imposed on the spread of the epidemic have significantly reduced the number of defectors from North Korea to South Korea.
The border between the two countries is one of the most militarized in the world. It is filled with landmines, electrified fencing, barbed wire, surveillance cameras, and military forces.
The most watched border in the world
The demilitarized zone is an area 248 kilometers long and 4 kilometers wide. It was created in 1953 as an alternative military containment due to the tension of the war between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea, which arose in 1948. In that year, the geographical division between the two countries became a de facto international border.
The Korean War began in 1950, when the then great powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, began to “divide” the world after World War II.
The Soviets had taken control of the northern part of the peninsula, while the Americans controlled the southern part.
On June 25, 1950, North Korea, with the support of the Soviet Union and China, invaded South Korea, and immediately the United States sent its military forces to help the country fight the “invasion of the Communists”.
Panmunjom is the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas – Image: Getty Images via BBC
With Washington’s help, Seoul, the capital of South Korea, was retaken within two months.
China, in turn, worried about the US decision to mobilize its forces in the north to try to reunify the peninsula, intervened in the conflict.
It is estimated that more than 5 million people (both military and civilians) were killed in the war.
In the armistice of 1953, which ended the war between the two countries, the two sides agreed not to conduct any hostilities within, to or against that demilitarized zone.
Currently, the only part of the border where soldiers are always face to face is the so-called Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom.
“After the great Korean War, both sides tried to use the venue as a propaganda tool to show how much each other had improved,” says Isaac Stone Fish of the Asia Society, a New York-based think tank.
Also in this place, until March 1991, military negotiations took place between the United Nations Command (UN) and North Korea.
The place that draws the most attention in the common security area is the building where the private meeting room is located, which has a space that spans across the two countries. Those who enter it can practically cross the tense border line by simply walking across the room.
For many years, the site has been nothing more than a flashpoint on the 38th parallel, which serves to demarcate the inter-Korean border. Over time, Panmunjom also became one of the many places where hundreds of North Koreans were killed while trying to flee to the south.
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