Brazen North Korean Defector Was Shot 7 Times, But Will Likely Survive

Yesterday, we shared the story of one brazen North Korean soldier’s journey across the heavily fortified DMZ into South Korea - one of the most daring defections by a North Korean in recent memory. But since then, more details about the defection have emerged. The unidentified man was shot an astonishing seven times - and surgeons were able to remove five bullets from his person.

Indeed, it was the first time since 2007 that a soldier successfully defected across the border, Reuters reported.

The DMZ is a four-kilometer long expanse riddled with landmines. Defectors only rarely make it across alive, given the presence of snipers on both sides of the border. Fortunately, the North Korean soldier is expected to survive, though he remained in critical condition on Tuesday.

Giving little warning, the soldier suddenly bolted from a guard post at the northern side of Panmunjom village, a once-obscure farming village inside the DMZ. He was shot in the shoulder and elbow and was taken to a South Korean hospital, the South’s Defense Ministry said. It wasn’t immediately known how serious the soldier’s injuries were or why he decided to defect.

Reuters provided more details about the escape:

The soldier had on Monday sped toward the border in a “peace village” in the heavily guarded demilitarized zone, in 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 managed to get out of the line of fire when he took cover behind a South Korean structure in a Joint Security Area inside the demilitarized 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.

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