A former North Korean gymnast claims he leaped over an almost 10-foot-high barbed-wire fence to defect to the safety of the South, according to reports.
Seoul’s defense authorities have launched an investigation into the unidentified defector after his escape across the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) failed to set off any alarms, the Korea Herald said.
The man, described as being in his 20s, told them he used his gymnastic training to leap over the fence undetected — even jumping twice for officials to prove his athletic prowess, according to the report.
To get across the DMZ, he had to get over an almost 10-foot-high fence with land mines on both sides, according to United Press International, which cited local reports.
The fence did not appear to have been cut or modified, and investigators believe his story that he used his gymnastic skill to get across, the reports said.
He had been detected at least twice by South Korea’s surveillance cameras as he loitered near the fence — but still managed to get across even after a heightened alert was issued with extra troops flooding the area, the Yonhap news service said, sparking an ongoing investigation into apparent failures.
He was picked up Nov. 3 about 10 miles from the fence and some 14 hours after he got across, the agency said.
He was unarmed and told South Korean officials that he wanted to defect from the brutal regime in the Hermit Kingdom, the report said.