Defector Crossed DMZ Undetected Thanks to Loose Screw

Sensors were supposed to alert South Korean guards
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2020 10:01 AM CST
South Korea: Loose Screw Allowed Defector to Cross DMZ
In this June 14, 2019 photo, South Korean army soldiers patrol while hikers visit the DMZ Peace Trail in the demilitarized zone in Goseong, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

The latest defection from North Korea is a worry for South Koreans—and not because they fear an onslaught of gymnasts leaping over the border. The defector, who showed up on the South Korean side of the heavily fortified DMZ earlier this month, managed to get past a border equipped with sensors that were supposed to alert guards if there was any intrusion from the North, sparking fears that the system is unable to detect infiltrators. South Korean authorities say a loose screw was to blame and they now plan to check every sensor along the border, the BBC reports. Defections across the DMZ, which is littered with mines, are highly unusual and border guards reportedly told the man to jump several times to prove his claim to be a fence-vaulting gymnast.

Song Young-chae of the Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea human rights group tells Deutsche Welle that this is only the latest in a long series of failures to detect border breaches. "I think quite a few people were shocked when they heard what happened because equipment on the border really should not fail to work," Song says. "Obviously, I am happy to hear that this North Korean person was able to escape and was not injured, but that border is meant to be strong to protect us against provocations from the North and it is very worrying to hear that someone was able to get through it so easily." (Read more North Korea stories.)

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