Anchor: A North Korean who defected to South Korea three years ago, returned back to the North recently, apparently exposing embarrassing weaknesses in the South's border security in the process. There are concerns that North Korea may use the incident to blame South Korea for spreading the coronavirus across the border.
Sam Len reports.
Report: More details have emerged about the North Korean defector who returned back to the reclusive state. The latest revelations are also increasing the blame on South Korea's faulty surveillance along the heavily-armed border.
The defector is believed to be a 24-year-old male whose surname is Kim. South Korean authorities say he appears to have swum back to North Korea from a South Korean island on the West Sea just a stone's throw away from the North.
Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson Kim Jun-rak said the South Korean military pinpointed the defector's last whereabouts before he crossed over into North Korea.
[Kim Jun-rak, Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesperson (English dubbing)]
"We identified Gangwha Island to be the estimated location that the individual used to return to the North."
Gangwha Island is located on the West Sea and sits just one to two kilometers away from North Korea's coast. South Korean military officials said the defector was confirmed to have taken a taxi from the mainland to reach the island over a bridge.
The north side of Gangwha Island that faces North Korea is lined with two rows of barbed-wire fences that are monitored around the clock using high-tech sensors and cameras.
But the cutting-edge equipment apparently proved useless. Military authorities suspect that Kim crawled through a drainage canal under the barbed-wire fences, away from the prying eyes of surveillance cameras.
Meanwhile, North Korea's Korean Central News Agency said Monday that quarantine efforts are under way in the border city of Gaeseong after a "maximum national emergency" was declared over the weekend as the defector secretly returned across the border displaying COVID-19 symptoms.
However, South Korea's Central Disaster Management Headquarters said Monday that the defector is not listed as a confirmed patient and was not on a list of people who had close contact with an infected person.
The defector was also under police investigation for sexually assaulting a woman.
Sam Len, KBS World Radio News.