Gymnast From North Korea Reportedly Hopped Fence To Defect to South

Elias Hubbard
Ноября 26, 2020

A North Korean man who defected to the South by reportedly leaping over the border fence has claimed to be a former gymnast.

Seung Cheol Choi, a defector who graduated from North Korea's elite Kim Il Sung University, said service jobs like pizza delivery in the South were not for him. According to sources, the man was a North Korean civilian who had formerly been a professional gymnast in the country.

The last known North Korean defection across the inter-Korean land border before this one took place was in December 2018, when a soldier crossed the military demarcation line into the South. He was found by South Korean soldiers at around 10 a.m. the next day less than a mile away from the border, according to The Korean Herald and Yonhap News Agency.

The man, apparently aged in his early 20s, has been made to jump to prove his story to officials in the South, local media reports. Seoul officials had him jump twice to verify his claim. The man is still under investigation by South Korean officials, the newspaper said.

The man has since expressed a desire to defect to South Korea, but officials have not revealed the motives behind his escape from the North or why it took him 14 hours after crossing the southern fence to surrender to South Korean troops.

Authorities suspect his light body weight and gymnastics experience could have aided the escape.

The military said earlier that the fences looked pressed down, but they did not appear to have been modified or cut.

He was captured shortly after and is being held by South Korea. The military is still looking into why sensors on the fences did not trigger an alarm.

Seoul previously vowed to strengthen surveillance along the border with their communist neighbor following other security breaches, the news agency said.

South Korea has not stopped making phone calls to the North following the demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in June, Hankook Ilbo reported Tuesday.

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

A North Korean defector has left authorities in the South baffled after claiming to have vaulted over an nearly 10ft high fence during his audacious escape.

The North and South agreed to cease hostilities from the Korean War in 1953, but have remained mutually hostile. Relations have soured further since the collapse of denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington previous year.

The incident comes within weeks of a South Korean fisheries ministry official being killed after crossing into North Korean waters.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article