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Monday 19 August 2019

South Korea to deport US man for trying to cross to North Korea

A visitor at the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea (AP)
A visitor at the unification observatory in Paju, South Korea (AP)

South Korea is to deport an American man detained for allegedly attempting to cross the mine-strewn border into North Korea.

South Korean soldiers caught the man, aged about 59 and from Louisiana, entering a civilian-controlled area just south of the two and a half mile-wide Demilitarised Zone without government approval on Monday.

The DMZ, created at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, serves as a de facto border between the Koreas.

The man told investigators he believed his trip to North Korea would help resolve tensions on the Korean peninsula, according to South Korea's military.

A local police agency, which later took the man into custody from the military, said it will send him to the immigration office for deportation.

The decision was made in line with the law that allows deportation of foreigners in case they pose a threat to public interests and security, said an officer at Gyeonggi Bukbu Provincial Police Agency.

The man was carrying extra underwear at the time of his arrest and nothing else, and did not have any equipment to scale over barbed wire fences installed along the DMZ, senior South Korean military officer Suh Wook said.

Americans have been occasionally arrested after entering North Korea illegally from China, but a US citizen trying to get in from South Korea is unusual.

In 2014, another US citizen was arrested by South Korean soldiers for allegedly trying to swim across a river to North Korea.

South Korean media described him as a 29-year-old computer technician from Texas who hoped to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The same day the Louisiana man was arrested, North Korean troops in the same western portion of the DMZ fired at a comrade who fled to the South at a jointly controlled DMZ area.

The soldier remains in serious condition at a South Korean hospital following two operations.


PA Media

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