File: North Korean soldiers are seen at a military fence next to a guard post in the North Korean border county of Kaepoong, as seen across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from the South Korean island of Ganghwa on September 25, 2020 (YONHAP / AFP)

US national believed detained after crossing into North Korea during border tour

File: North Korean soldiers are seen at a military fence next to a guard post in the North Korean border county of Kaepoong, as seen across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from the South Korean island of Ganghwa on September 25, 2020 (YONHAP / AFP)

UN working with Pyongyang to free wayward tourist, about whom little is known, as concerns grow over hermit kingdom’s nuclear program

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — An American has crossed the heavily fortified border from South Korea into North Korea, the American-led UN Command overseeing the area said Tuesday, amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program.

The UN Command tweeted that the US 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 in North Korean custody and that the UN Command is working with its North Korean counterparts to resolve the incident.

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It gave no further details on who the person is or why he crossed the border.

Cases of Americans or South Koreans defecting to North Korea are rare, though more than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea to avoid political oppression and economic difficulties at home since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Panmunjom, located inside the 248-kilometer (154-mile)-long Demilitarized Zone, was created at the close of the Korean War. Bloodshed and gunfire have occasionally occurred there, but it has also been a venue for numerous talks and a popular tourist spot.

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