A strange story coming out of South Korea made news over the weekend. The South Korean military detected a man attempting to cross the DMZ between the two Koreas and sent troops to apprehend him.
The defector was spotted by South Korean military surveillance near the eastern portion of the border, Joint Chiefs of Staff officers said.
The South sent troops to recover the individual, but failed and observed the person cross the border…
The defector dodged an estimated 2 million landmines inside and near the 155-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide strip, which is also guarded by barbed wire fences, anti-tank traps and combat troops on both sides.
Why would anyone want to leave South Korea for North Korea? As Jazz pointed out a couple of days ago, the situation in the North is so dire this winter that Kim Jong Un has stopped issuing apocalyptic threats and is instead promising to build tractors to help produce more food.
The story took another turn today when it was revealed that the man who crawled across the DMZ was a former North Korean defector who was able to get over a 9 foot fence to escape the North thanks to his training in gymnastics.
“The redefector was presumed to be a defector A in his early 30s, who crossed the Military Demarcation Line in Goseong County, Gangwon Province, in November 2020,” a military official said, without revealing the defector’s name.
The redefector once again crossed the inter-Korean border in the area of Goseong County under the supervision of the 22nd Infantry Division. But the military official said he did not use the same overland route when fleeing South Korea…
Although questions still remain as to the motive of the redefection, the South Korean military said Seoul has not yet found any evidence that the redefector was involved in espionage activities.
So if he wasn’t a spy, why would he risk his life to go back to the worst hellhole on earth in the middle of what could be a famine? All the South is saying at this point is that the man worked as a “cleaner” and had economic difficulties. To me it sounds a bit like the plot for Squid Game, the Netflix show about desperate South Koreans who are willing to risk their lives in a Hunger Games-style contest for a chance to escape the bad hand capitalism (and their own choices) has dealt them. Still the AP reports that while there are some cases of defections from the South to the North it’s pretty rare:
About 34,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea for economic and political reasons since the late 1990s, and only about 30 have returned home in the past 10 years, according to South Korean government records.
Looking to see if there was any video of the defection on YouTube I can across this story from 2014 about a North Korean defector who, after succeeding in South Korea, decided he wanted to go back, at least to visit. In his case, it was to see the family members he’d left behind.