North Korea escapee swims for six hours and crawls through drains to defect

A North Korean man swam for six hours to South Korea and then crawled through a drainage pipe beneath barbed wire in a bid to defect.

The man, who is reportedly in his 20s, is understood to have swam across the North and South Korea maritime border and then squeezed himself through a drainage pipe.

South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff said the man was first spotted on surveillance cameras passing a military checkpoint at 4.20am.

He was not captured by the military until three hours later when he entered the restricted civilian-control zone.

A diving suit and fins the man used were later found on the beach in Goseong, Gangwon, as well as a detachable helmet used by North Korean fishermen.

The zone is located 2.5m south of the Demilitarised Zone, or DMZ, that acts as a buffer between the two Koreas.

According to South Korea’s JoongAng Daily, the man is a North Korea citizen who has expressed his desire to defect to the South in the past.

It is not clear where the man is currently staying.

Military authorities and intelligence agencies are now investigating how the man managed to swim across the border in the winter.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement: "The man likely swam across the maritime border, came ashore near an observatory south of South Korean general outposts (GOPs) and passed through a drainage channel under the fences lining the shore.

"We take this situation gravely and are conducting an onsite investigation with the Ground Forces Command

"We will take follow-up measures and stern actions according to the results of the investigation."

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Back in October 2020, a man, who was a former North Korean gymnast, managed to jump over a 10-ft border fence to escape.

He was first picking up on thermal cameras on the North Korean side on the morning of November 2.

South Korean authorities later caught him and interrogators are said to have made him perform acrobatic jumps to verify his claims until they were satisfied that he had gymnastic skills.

A new system will now reportedly be designed to detect and stop potential defectors using ground vibration sensors that will ring alarm bells and alert the military.

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