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Unidentified person enters North Korea from South in rare border breach

SEOUL (AFP) – An unidentified person entered North Korea from the South on New Year’s Day, the military in Seoul said yesterday, a rare breach of the heavily fortified border between the neighbours.

Years of repression and poverty in North Korea have led more than 30,000 people to flee to the South in the decades since the Korean War, but crossings in the other direction are extremely rare.

The person was detected by surveillance equipment in the Demilitarised Zone – which divides the Korean peninsula – at 9.20pm local time on Saturday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. It sparked a search operation by the military, but to no avail.

“It was confirmed the person crossed the Military Demarcation Line into the North,” it added.

The person has not been identified yet, a JCS official told reporters, adding South Korean authorities sent a message to the North yesterday regarding the incident.

No unusual activity by the North Korean military has been detected, he said.

In 2020, North Korean troops shot dead and burned the body of a South Korean fisheries official Pyongyang said had illegally crossed the maritime border.

In the same year, a North Korean who had defected to the South three years earlier sneaked back across the heavily fortified border.

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