North Korean 'pole vaults to freedom' across border

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Few defectors take the unsafe option of trying to break through the zone, with most of the 33,000 who have fled North Korea since the 1990s opting for risky but more achievable routes through China, arriving in the South via a third country, normally Thailand.

He had been detected at least twice by South Korea's surveillance cameras as he loitered near the fence - but still managed to get across even after a heightened alert was issued with extra troops flooding the area, the Yonhap news service said, sparking an ongoing investigation into apparent failures. Shortly after the incident, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said there were no signs of significant damage to the fences where the man had crossed. He said he was a civilian seeking to defect.

The unnamed man, who is described as being in his late 20s, crossed into South Korea through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at around 7 p.m. November 3, evading capture for 14 hours.

Regardless, officials have called for an urgent probe.

After the South Korean border guards discovered a breach, the man was tracked down and detained.

A North Korean man who fled here early this month said he used to be a gymnast and was able to jump over the 3-meter fence along the inter-Korean border, a Seoul official familiar with the matter said Monday. Then he had to get to the 12-foot-high barbed-wire barricade on the South Korean side, evading detection by guard posts on both sides of the line and also evading electronic sensors.

A North Korean man seeking to escape his homeland took a almost 10-foot leap of faith earlier this month. The man is still under investigation by South Korean officials, the newspaper said.

Defections into South Korea are extremely hard considering all the high coiled barbed wire on both the North and South Korean sides not to mention thousands of mines on both sides in addition to electronic sensors.

The incident has sparked criticism from many who accuse the military of being slow to respond to potential North Korean infiltration. North Koreans in hot pursuit wounded him a number of times, but he was finally rescued by South Korean soldiers and medevacked to a hospital where expert surgery saved him.

The DMZ stretches from coast to coast on the Korean peninsular.

Other defectors have found a place in South Korean society.



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