Court documents detail that Zhu was a North Korean coal miner who swam across a river to a Chinese village in Tumen city, Jilin province in 2013. He was arrested later that year, and in 2014 was sentenced to 11 years in prison for illegal border crossing, larceny and robbery, to be followed by his deportation, according to a court judgment.
Zhu, whose sentence was twice reduced owing to good behavior, broke free from prison in the city of Jilin on October 18. His dramatic escape, which was caught on video and included using a rope to damage an electric fence and jumping off a high prison wall, has led to speculation online that Zhu was a former member of the North Korean military. A related hashtag on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, has since attracted more than 800 million views.