2 North Korean men swim across border to South Korea

August 13, 2014
Gyodong Island (Yonhap file photo)

Gyodong Island (Yonhap file photo)

(Yonhap) — Two North Korean men swam across the Yellow Sea border to defect to South Korea, government sources here said Thursday (KST).

South Korean troops on guard duty spotted them reaching Gyodong Island, just south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), at around 4 a.m. Thursday, according to the sources. The island is about 2.5 kilometers (about 1.5 miles) away from the North’s closest western coast.

The two, one in his 50s and the other in his 20s, immediately expressed their desire to defect to the South.

“The unarmed men in casual clothes are presumed to be civilians, though a further probe is needed to learn exactly who they are,” a source said, asking not to be named.

They were taken into custody for interrogation by the South’s state intelligence authorities on their reasons for defection, he noted.

“It’s unusual for North Koreans to swim across the heavily fortified border to reach South Korea, but it is just possible given the location of the Island of Gyodong. It in fact is the third consecutive year that North Koreans reached the island by swimming,” the source added.

Over the past several years, South Korea has seen a series of defection cases in the western border regions. In the latest case, a man from the communist country defected to the South in a wooden boat in July.