North Korean gymnast ‘vaulted 3m fence’ in demilitarised zone to get into the South

A man who fled from North Korea across the demilitarised zone into South Korea says he is an ex-gymnast who jumped a 3m (9.8ft) fence using his athletic prowess.

The man, apparently aged in his early 20s, has been made to jump to prove his story to officials in the South, local media reports.

The DMZ stretches from coast to coast on the Korean peninsular. It is about 2.5 miles (4km) wide and heavily mined, with barbed wire fences and armed guards patrolling it to both the north and the south.

It is said that the defector was first noticed on 2 November at the North Korean side, and he was then spotted climbing a barbed wire fence to the south a day later.

He was captured shortly after and is being held by South Korea. It is reported that he claims to be a civilian looking to defect.

An investigation is under way as to why alarms were not triggered while the man was making his crossing.

More than 32,000 people have defected from the oppressive North Korean regime since 1948.

The most common exit point is through the northern border with China, while others cross to South Korea using boats. Crossing the DMZ is rare.

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