Distressing footage has emerged of a North Korean soldier barreling past his compatriots in a military vehicle and reaching the South Korean line. The defector was shot multiple times and taken to hospital in critical condition.
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The harrowing video released Wednesday in Seoul by the United Nations Command is edited together from separate cameras and angles. It shows a November 13 defection by a North Korean soldier, who doctors say is in recovery after being shot at least five times during his getaway.
The UN Command claims the footage shows a North Korean border guard follow the defecting soldier past the South Korean border for a few seconds and also shows North Korean soldiers firing their rifles at the deserter, sending bullets onto the South Korean side. Both of these would be violations of the 1953 armistice agreement signed to mark the end of hostilities in the Korean War. The UN notified Pyongyang of the violations.
“The key findings of the special investigation team are that the [North Korean People’s Army violated the armistice agreement by one, firing weapons across the [Military Demarcation Line], and two, by actually crossing the MDL temporarily,” Chad Carroll, Director of Public Affairs for the UN Command, reportedly said at a news conference Wednesday.
The video begins with a North Korean military jeep racing down a two-lane road in a heavily wooded area before blowing through a North Korean checkpoint. The vehicle appears to slow down just as it reached the guard station, then accelerates rapidly to escape. The vehicle continues down the two-lane road, and turns right at a fork, where it crosses a North Korean monument.
At this point, the vehicle disappears under tree cover, but is seen again in the next clip stuck in a ditch. By this time, at least four North Korean soldiers are seen running towards the vehicle. The defector flees the vehicle, and within seconds, the soldiers open fire on him. This is when the UN Command claims one of Pyongyang’s soldiers crossed onto the South Korean side.
Soon after, the soldiers head back to the monument, where nearly a dozen other servicemen meet them. The next clip shows the defector lying motionless alongside a concrete wall, then a night vision camera recording shows South Korean soldiers, including the deputy commander of the border security unit, crawling to the fallen soldier and dragging him, Reuters reported. The video ends there.
According to Reuters, the unnamed defector was airlifted by a US military helicopter and taken to a hospital in Suwon, south of Seoul. There, doctors said they had removed the bullets during two surgeries, and that he had regained consciousness and was breathing on his own.
“He is fine,” lead surgeon Lee Cook-Jong told reporters in Suwon, Reuters reported. “He is not going to die.”
The hospital also said the patient had a serious case of parasites, complicating his treatment, and that he exhibited traits of depression and trauma.