A North Korean former gymnast tried to defect to South Korea by jumping over a 3-meter (10-foot) fence through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) earlier this month.
The unidentified North Korean man in his late 20s successfully crossed over to South Korea at around 7 p.m. on Nov. 3, according to NPR.
He managed to evade being captured for 14 hours and was only discovered by South Korean soldiers at around 10 a.m. the following day.
To verify his claims, South Korean officials made the man jump in front of them. They believe his light bodyweight and gymnastics experience could have helped him escape, The Korea Herald reported.
It was unclear how he did it, but the man was able to avoid North Korean security, evade land mines scattered across the DMZ and jumped over the fence equipped with trigger sensors without setting off the alarms.
South Korea’s security in the DMZ was criticized after the news of the man’s escape, especially the length of time it took to locate him.
A North Korean soldier came near the South Korean outpost under the jurisdiction of the same unit in 2012. The last known defection was by a North Korean soldier in 2019. About 1,000 North Koreans defect from the country each year, reported the BBC.
The fence system, installed in 2015, is supposed to provide alerts if there is some impact on the fence.
“We will look into why the sensors did not ring and make sure they operate properly,” a Joint Chiefs of Staff official said.
Although the top of the fence where the man crossed appeared to be pressed down, authorities did not see cuts or modifications on the fence.
The man remains under investigation by South Korean officials for his methods and motives for defecting.
Feature Image via CNN (Left), Getty (Right)