The person who defected to North Korea from South Korea by crossing the fence in the eastern front on New Year’s Day has been identified to have defected to South Korea by crossing the fence of the same unit in late 2019. The same person crippled the military security by defecting back and forth between the South and the North freely. Furthermore, the defector was reported to the National Police Agency twice and under supervision as he showed signs of potential defection back to the North by asking questions about traveling abroad in June last year. It shows there are holes in not only the military security but also the management of North Korean defectors.
The absurd failure of security reveals where the South Korean military is at the moment with a lack of discipline. The unit did not recognize the defector who was caught two to three times by CCTV installed on the fence. An emergency response team was dispatched as a fence surveillance sensor activated an alarm but the team failed to detect clear footprints on the site and reported that there was no issue. The South Korean military that has been priding itself on cutting-edge scientific equipment and impenetrable surveillance was indeed a plaything for the defector.
The military and the government said there are no anti-communist suspicions, such as espionage activities, regarding the defector. However, it cannot be assured as he was taken by three North Korean military members after he crossed the Military Demarcation Line as if they were waiting for him. It is also doubtful whether his whereabouts in South Korea for the past year have been properly captured as the police did not take follow-up measures after detecting the signs of defection.
The military and the government will pledge to reprimand people in charge and develop improvement measures, citing a complete overhaul. However, people are bound to shake their heads at repeated failures and post-incident actions. A series of security failures are not unrelated to a lack of national security across South Korean society, which was prompted by a friendly atmosphere between the two Koreas under the current government. As the ‘wellbeing security’ seeps into even the military, discipline is lacking from the leadership to the frontline. The same failures will be repeated unless a sense of security and vigilance are strengthened.