North Korean gymnast jumps border fence to freedom in South Korea

Hikers walk along the DMZ Peace Trail in the demilitarized zone in Goseong, South Korea, Friday, June 14, 2019. AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

How high would you jump to get out of North Korea?

A North Korean gymnast reportedly leaped over a three-metre (10-foot) barbed-wire border fence along the Korean DMZ earlier this month, in a bold and successful attempt to defect to South Korea.

The man in his 20s allegedly jumped the fence in a single bound, the Korea Herald reports. He also should’ve earned a 10/10 for his stealthy performance, as border guards on both sides failed to notice him.

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The unidentified defector was ultimately captured south of the border on Nov. 4, the country’s Yonhap News Agency reports. His unusual entry sparked a military investigation.

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South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the high-stakes high-jump on Thursday in an awkward mea culpa. Officials said the man crossed the border without detection, after a loose screw caused motion sensors along the fence to malfunction.

“We will replace the screws with ones that do not loosen,” an officer told Yonhap.

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The incident has proven to be a black eye for South Korea’s military, amid concerns that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un might have been able to send agents through the security hole in the same way.

The defector was not found until 14 hours after he crossed the border, according to reports.

Border guards didn’t believe the man’s story until they reviewed security footage and saw him make the jump on video.

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Kim Jong Un ‘grateful’ during Workers’ Party 75th anniversary military parade – Oct 10, 2020

Authorities also held a mini gymnastics trial for the defector, just to confirm that he was capable of the jump he claimed to have pulled off.

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He convinced them, according to reports.

The defector is reportedly a “known gymnast,” although his exact identity and current location have not been released.

It’s unclear if South Korea will be making any last-minute changes to its Olympic roster for Tokyo next year.

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