United Nations Command on Tuesday released dramatic footage of a North Korean soldier defecting from his country and fleeing south across the Demilitarized Zone last week only to be fired upon by his fellow border guards.
Video captured by closed circuit television shows the moments the unnamed soldier, thought to be in his 20s, sped through the DMZ in a jeep past North Korean checkpoints as he was pursued by guards carrying weapons. The jeep later veered into a ditch before the soldier jumped out and ran across the border, where four of his comrades can be seen firing upon him.
South Korean soldiers quickly moved to rescue the soldier and bring him to safety.
The man was shot at least five times and is in critical condition at a South Korean hospital. Doctors said Wednesday he had regained consciousness after having two operations to remove bullets from his body, according to Reuters.
“He is fine,” Lee Cook-Jong, the lead surgeon, said at a news conference. “He is not going to die.”
The Washington Post notes one of the pursuing North Korean soldiers can be seen on camera crossing the Military Demarcation Line between the two Koreas, a violation of the armistice agreement signed at the end of the Korean War in 1953. U.N. Command also said the North violated the agreement by firing across the MDL.
“UNC personnel at the [Joint Security Area] notified [the North’s Korean People’s Army] of these violations today through normal communications channel in Panmunjom and requested a meeting to discuss the investigation results and measures to prevent future such violations,” U.N. Command told the Post in a statement.
Such a defection at the heavily armed DMZ is rare, and a soldier has not done so at the Joint Security Area since 2007, according to The New York Times. Thousands of North Koreans have defected in the past decades, although most travel through China.
The Associated Press last week reported that doctors had to remove dozens of parasites, including intestinal worms as long as 10 inches, from the soldier while he was in the hospital. Some have said the health of the man reflects the ongoing humanitarian crisis within North Korea, which often struggles to feed its own people.