Defecting North Korean soldier ‘expected to survive’ wounds

Last updated: November 14, 2017 at 13:14 pm

A North Korean soldier is expected to survive critical wounds he received from fired a hail of bullets as he made a defection dash to South Korea, the South’s government and military have said.

The soldier sped towards the border in the heavily guarded demilitarised zone yesterday, driving a four-wheel drive vehicle.

But when a wheel came loose, he fled on foot as four North Korean soldiers fired about 40 rounds at him, said Suh Wook, chief director of operations at South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, briefing lawmakers.

“Until this morning, we heard he had no consciousness and was unable to breathe on his own but his life can be saved,” Suh said.

Surgeons had removed five bullets from the soldier’s body, leaving two inside, Suh added, to murmurs from lawmakers who said the soldier’s escape was “right out of a movie”.

The soldier took cover behind a South Korean structure in a Joint Security Area inside the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas.

South Korean and US soldiers, fearing more North Korean fire, later crawled to him to rescue him, the United Nations Command said in a separate statement.

North Korea has not said anything about the soldier.

Its military had not given any indication of unusual movements on Tuesday, the South’s military said.

While on average more than 1,000 North Koreans defect to the South every year, most travel via China and it is unusual for a North Korean to cross the land border dividing the two Koreas.

Both states technically remain at war as their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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