An American soldier has been arrested for crossing the heavily fortified border from South Korea into North Korea, the United Nations Command overseeing the area said Tuesday, amid heightened tensions between the two nations.
The U.N. Command tweeted that the U.S. citizen was on a tour to the Korean border village of Panmunjom and crossed the border into the North without authorization.
It said he is currently believed to be in North Korean custody and that the U.N. Command is working with its Pyongyang counterparts to resolve the incident.
The Command gave no further details as to the identity of the soldier or as to why he crossed to border from the demilitarized zone which separates the two Koreas.
The last recorded individual to have crossed the border in 2020 was shot and killed on the spot, South Korean intelligence said at the time.
‘A U.S. National on a JSA (Joint Security Area) orientation tour crossed, without authorization, the Military Demarcation Line into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),’ the U.N. Command said on Twitter.
‘We believe he is currently in DPRK custody and are working with our KPA counterparts to resolve this incident,’ it added, referring to North Korea’s People’s Army.
The unnamed man is the first American since Bruce Byron Lowrance in 2018 to be detained by North Korean forces. Lowrance was held for a month after he illegally entered the country from China.
The Military Demarcation Line marks the border between North and South Korea and has been in place since the Armistice signed in July 1953. The Korean Demilitarized Zone sits on either side of the border, stretching 2km each way.
Since 1950, the United Nations Command a multinational security effort – has patrolled the area with the aim of maintaining the armistice and to facilitate diplomacy between the two countries.Share this story to friends