North Korean captured across border by South
Some 200 North Koreans settled in the South last year, down around 80 per cent from 2019, Unification Minister Lee In-young has said, citing the reclusive state’s shutdown of its frontiers in January 2020.
The last publicly known case was in November when a North Korean man defected to the South also via the eastern DMZ.
Cross-border ties soured after denuclearisation talks between Pyongyang and Washington stalled since 2019.
A spat simmered in September after North Korean troops shot dead a South Korean fisheries official who went missing at sea, fanning public and political uproar in the South.
In July, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared an emergency and sealed off a border town after a person with COVID-19 symptoms illegally crossed the border into the North from the South.
North Korea has not confirmed any COVID-19 cases, though Seoul officials have cast doubt on there being zero cases citing the country’s active exchanges with China, where the virus first emerged, prior to its border closure.