North Korean authorities have installed a new gate along the road to the demilitarized zone (DMZ), recent visitors have told NK News, slowing traffic on the drive to the spot where a DPRK soldier defected last November.
Two other gates that in the past were typically left open are now almost permanently closed, with one newly fitted with wheel spikes.
The soldier, named as Oh by South Korean authorities, defected to the South by driving a military jeep at high speed near the Northern area of the joint security area (JSA), before crossing into the ROK on foot.
He remains hospitalized in the South, having been shot several times by North Korean soldiers during his crossing.
Pyongyang is yet to comment publicly on the incident, but three gates now block the road through which Oh escaped, a source who recently visited the JSA said.
One of the gates was newly installed, the source said, while the other two had largely been left open prior the defection.
“That’s (the route) where that car would have just cruised on through,” another recent visitor said.
The new gate also features security mechanisms to prevent another high-speed vehicle making it through.
“They have just cut slots into the posts to add the gates,” one source said. “The wheel spikes on the ground are controlled manually. You have to stand on them to deactivate them.”
Tourists visiting Panmunjom must have soldiers open the gates for them, the first source said, with two guarding each gate.
The news comes several weeks after sources reported on new security measures being installed on the access road leading to the North Korean side of the JSA in the DMZ at Panmunjom.
“It’s the DMZ everyone imagined the North having – it’s real now,” a recent visitor said at the time. “There’s extra barb wiring, more CCTV cameras, and I’ve noticed slogans have been removed from pylons that were there previously.”
One UN Command spokesperson told NK News at the time that it made sense the DPRK would reassess its security on the Northern side in the aftermath of November’s incident.
“We – the ROK-U.S. Alliance and UN Command – reviewed our procedures and actions related to the November defection on our side of things, so it’s logical to assume North Korea would as well,” they said.
Recent visitors to the JSA also told NK News that bullet holes from the November defection were still visible on buildings on the South Korean side.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: NK News
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