This file photo taken April 3, 2019, shows the east coast near the inter-Korean border in Goseong, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap)
An artificial intelligence (AI)-based security system will be set up at a military unit guarding the eastern coastal border, the defense ministry said Thursday, after a North Korean man crossed the border undetected earlier this year.
The North Korean man swam ashore in the South in the eastern border town of Goseong on Feb. 16. He was caught on the military surveillance cameras 10 times but soldiers failed to notice eight of them even after alarm bells rang.
Under the plan reported to Defense Minister Suh Wook during a meeting on defense reform, the military will establish the AI-based system at the unit guarding the area as a pilot project this year and expand the system to the whole 22nd Infantry Division in Goseong by 2022.
The division came under intense criticism over the incident, leading to the dismissal of a two-star Army general of his command.
The military will also postpone the planned disbandment of the Army's 8th Corps, which has the division under its wing, from December this year to mid-2023 to give time for upgrading the security system, the ministry said.
The North Korean man in his 20s, whose identity was withheld, passed through a drainage conduit beneath the barbed wire fences set up along the shore. He was eventually captured hours later and expressed a desire to defect.
Separately, the ministry said it will complete reducing the mandatory military service period to 18 months by this year as planned. It is one of a series of reform projects under way to make the military "smaller and stronger."
All able-bodied South Korean men must carry out compulsory military service for about two years in a country that faces North Korea across a heavily fortified border.
Other reform measures include raising the proportion of female service members and decreasing the number of generals with one to four stars.
Among 76 general positions subject to reduction, 46 have been cut so far, and the military plans to reduce 15 more this year.
South Korea has been reorganizing units and deploying weapons developed with latest technologies to cope with a shrinking population. (Yonhap)