North Korean soldier awake after daring defection
A North Korean defector is expected to survive after braving a hail of gunfire from soldiers hot on his trail during a mad dash to the South, according to newly released footage of the daring escape.
The pursuit sent bullets and a North Korean soldier skittering across the white line dividing the two nations in a failed attempt to stop him — resulting in two violations of the decades-old armistice agreement, U.N. Command spokesman Chad Carroll said Wednesday.
Carroll narrated several angles of surveillance footage depicting the dramatic Nov. 13 defection during a press conference in Seoul.
The video shows the unidentified soldier behind the wheel of a military jeep barreling toward the 72-Hour Bridge, one of the man-made obstacles in the way of his freedom in South Korea. The escape caught North Korean troops by surprise as he reached the fortified border in Panmunjom. Several guards ran out of a checkpoint on the side of the tree-lined road and sprinted down several flights of stairs to chase after their fleeing countryman.
The defector ditched the vehicle after crashing in a ditch before running across a leafy field dotted with trees, prompting four soldiers to fire at least 40 rounds.
The video does not show the moment when at least five bullets pierced the defector, seriously wounding him.
The defector ditches his car and tries to bolt for the border in this still image taken from CCTV footage regarding his defection during a news conference at the Defence Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 22, 2017.
One of the soldiers crossed the white marker representing the demarcation line dividing the two nations. He lingered for at least a second before returning to his northern territory. The brief foray is a breach of the Korean War Armistice Agreement signed in 1953.
Another camera detected the wounded defector’s heat signature after he collapsed into a pile of leaves. He appeared motionless against a retaining wall as two U.N. Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area officers crawled toward him and dragged him to safety.
The defector was rushed to a hospital north of Seoul in Suwon.
The soldier’s identity and rank remain a mystery nearly two weeks into his newfound freedom.
The soldier’s recovery has been rocky, and at times startling after doctors discovered massive parasitic worms while patching up his intestinal wounds.
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier crossing the white Military Demarcation Line during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing.
Doctors at the Suwon hospital revealed he woke up Sunday and complained of agonizing pain after several rounds of surgeries to repair his bullet-ridden body.
“He is fine,” surgeon Lee Cook-Jong said Wednesday. “He is not going to die.”
He has so far revealed little of his motivation for embarking on the perilous journey. Doctors have been playing South Korean pop music and American action flicks at the soldier’s bedside — but he has shown signs of depression and apparent trauma.
The violent encounter marked the first shooting at the Joint Security Area since 1984, when U.N Command soldiers exchanged gunfire with a Soviet citizen sprinting toward the South Korean sector.
North Koreans defected at the same crossing in 1998 and 2007 but neither of the incidents resulted in gunfire.
With News Wire Services