North Korea violated armistice with South by crossing border to shoot defector, says UN command

Fleeing soldier is said to have recovered consciousness and is breathing on his own following surgery to remove bullets near Seoul

Foster Klug
Seoul
,Hyung-Jin Kim
Wednesday 22 November 2017 03:14
Comments
Dramatic footage shows North Korean soldier shot at as he flees to the South

North Korea violated the armistice agreement as one of its soldiers crossed the Military Demarcation Line, the border between the two Koreas, chasing a soldier who defected to the South, UN Command (UNC) has said.

The North Korean soldier made a desperate dash to freedom in a jeep and then on foot, being shot at least five times as he limped across the border and was rescued by South Korean soldiers, according to dramatic video released by the UNC.

The North violated the armistice agreement ending the Korean War by firing across and physically crossing the border in pursuit of the soldier, Colonel Chad G Carroll, a spokesman for the UNC, told reporters in a live TV briefing. North Korean soldiers fired about 40 rounds at the defector.

The video shows the soldier speeding down a tree-lined road, past shocked North Korean soldiers, who begin to run after him. He crashes the jeep near the line that divides North and South and the blue huts familiar to anyone who's toured the area, which is the part of the border where North and South Korean soldiers face each other at their closest distance just metres away. There were no tour groups at the time of the defection, Col. Carroll said.

Soldiers from the North sprint to the area, firing their weapons at the defector; one hurries across the dividing line before running back to the northern side. South Korean soldiers then crawl up to the defector, who has fallen injured in a mass of leaves against a small wall. They drag him to safety as North Korean troops begin to gather on their side of the line.

Surprisingly, North and South Korean soldiers didn't exchange fire in the first shooting in the area in more than three decades.

Col. Carroll said the North violated the armistice by “one, firing weapons across the MDL, and two, by actually crossing the MDL temporarily,” referring to the Military Demarcation Line that bisects the Koreas. KPA stands for the North's Korean People's Army.

A UN Command statement said officials notified the North's military of these violations and requested a meeting to discuss the investigation results and measures to prevent future such violations.

North Korea hasn't responded and its official media haven't reported on the case. The North has previously accused South Korea of kidnapping or enticing North Koreans to defect. About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly via China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Trump announces intent to declare North Korea state sponsor of terror

South Korea's military has said North Korean soldiers used handguns and AK rifles to fire about 40 rounds at their former comrade, who was hit at least five times. A UN Command helicopter later transported him to the Ajou University Medical Centre near Seoul.

The defector remains in hospital after two rounds of surgery that removed bullets from him.

The soldier has recovered consciousness and is breathing on his own following surgery, Ajou University Medical Centre said in a statement.

The soldier, who requires further intensive care, is cooperating with treatment but is hesitant to speak, the hospital added.

While treating the wounds, surgeons removed dozens of parasites from the soldier's ruptured small intestine, including presumed roundworms that were as long as 27 centimetres (10.6 inches), which may reflect poor nutrition and health in North Korea's military. The soldier is 1.7 meters (5 feet, 7 inches) tall but weighs just 60 kilograms (132 pounds).

Associated Press

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in