It is believed that a North Korean defector whose return to the North was revealed by the North Korean regime swam to the North from Ganghwa Island, the Joint Chiefs of Staff reported on Monday. The final results of the military’s investigation remain to be seen, but a North Korean defector who defected to South Korea three years ago through the lower Han River near Ganghwa Island seems to have returned to the North to avoid his sexual assault charge, based on the circumstantial evidence.
The lower Han River near Ganghwa Island about 40 kilometers away from Seoul is a strategic point for the defense of the country’s capital. The shortest distances to the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two Koreas are only about 1.3 to 2.5 kilometers, which was why it was often used by North Korean spies to cross the border. It is its critical importance in South Korea’s defense posture against the North that requires the deployment of the Marine Corps and 24-hour surveillance using the science-based surveillance system, including CCTVs. Yet, the surveillance system did not work in such an important location. It is quite shocking that the South Korean military was unaware of his defection to North Korea before the North’s revelation. We were completely fooled by our biggest adversary. The fact that an ordinary person can cross the inter-Korean border back and forth with such ease demonstrates that a member of North Korean special forces who is highly trained will find it a piece of cake.
The South Korean police in charge of the defector’s sexual assault investigation are under the criticism of ignoring reports on the possibility of him returning to the North. Although the police claim that they have not heard about such a possibility, but an acquittance of the defector says he visited the police office several times to report. Such an incident would not have happened unless both the efforts to maintain security and public safety are seriously inadequate. Perhaps, the military and the police have abandoned their duties and slacked off with the friendly mood of inter-Korean dialogues.