A SOUTH Korean has defected to the hellhole North where dictator Kim Jong-un's regime tortures its own people.
Military in Seoul said on Sunday that an unidentified person crossed the heavily fortified border in a rare defect to its communist neighbour.
The person was earlier spotted by surveillance equipment at the eastern portion of the border, known as the Demilitarized Zone.
But they avoided capture by South Korean troops on Saturday night and successfully defected to the North.
The surveillance later detected the person crossing the border, Joint Chiefs of Staff officers said.
They said: "We’ve confirmed that the person crossed the military demarcation line border about 10.40pm and defected to the North."
South Korea sent a message to the North to ensure the safety of the person – but they haven't responded, the officers said, requesting anonymity citing department rules.
It was unclear if this was a rare case of a South Korean hoping to defect to the North, or if it was a North Korean who briefly entered the South Korean territory and wanted to return.
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In September 2020, North Korea fatally shot a South Korean fisheries official, who was found floating in its waters along a poorly marked sea boundary – causing a public and political uproar.
South Korea said that North Korean troops were under orders to shoot anyone illegally crossing the border, to protect against the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier in 2020, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un placed a border city under total lockdown after a defector with Covid-like symptoms sneaked back home.
The fate of that defector, who had lived in South Korea, is not known.
On Saturday, North Korea announced it had decided to place top priority on strict virus restrictions at a high-profile ruling party meeting.
The two Koreas are split along the worlds most heavily armed border, called the Demilitarized Zone.
An estimated two million mines are peppered inside and near the 248-kilometre-long and four-kilometre-wide DMZ, which is also guarded by barbed wire fences, tank traps and combat troops on both sides.
Defecting via theDemilitarized Zone is rare – but about 34,000 North Koreans have moved to South Korea since the late 1990s to avoid poverty or political oppression.
However, the vast majority of them have come in via China and Southeast Asian countries, rather than the DMZ.
North Korea has yet to report any cases of the coronavirus, but experts have questioned its claim of a perfect record.
South Korea and a US-led UN force are technically still at war with North Korea – because the 1950-1953 Korean war ended in an armistice, rather than a peace treaty.
This comes after a report said Kim Jong-un's brutal North Korean regime burns bodies with flamethrowers and children are killed by firing squad.
A South Korean human rights organisation has documented 23 public executions in the rogue state and says the largest number were for "crimes" such as watching foreign films – not for rape or murder.
The report features testimony from North Korean defectors who were forced to watched the executions alongside the family members of the condemned.
All 23 of the public killings documented by the Transitional Justice Working Group have taken placed since Kim, 37, came to power in December 2011.
The actual number of executions carried out in the past 10 years is believed to be much higher.
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