North Korean border guards violated the terms of the armistice that halted the war between North and South Korea by firing rounds and chasing a defector across the border last week, according to a statement released by the United Nations.
North Korean troops were only steps behind the defecting soldier when a wheel on his jeep came loose and he was forced to flee on foot, a United Nations security video shows. They opened fire, releasing somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 rounds from pistols and “AK style” rifles, hitting the defecting soldier with five or more times before he was able to get far enough over the border to be reached by South Korean troops. According to the footage, one of the North Korean soldiers giving chase even crossed over the border himself into South Korea briefly during the pursuit.
“The key findings of the special investigation team are that the KPA violated the armistice agreement by one, firing weapons across the MDL, and two, by actually crossing the MDL temporarily,” Chad Carroll, Director of Public Affairs for the United Nations Command (UNC), told reporters.
In the footage, which was shown during a live video briefing, the defecting soldier can be seen speeding toward the border in a military jeep before crashing the vehicle. North Korean soldiers immediately gave chase, firing their weapons in his direction, with one overzealous soldier in pursuit crossing the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), before turning and returning to North Korea as his fellow soldiers continued to fire. From there, three South Korean border guards, including the Deputy Commander for South Korea’s border security unit, crawled through the brush to reach the wounded man and drag him to safety, where he was evacuated by UN helicopter to a nearby hospital for treatment.
No South Korean soldiers returned fire, and there were no tour groups in the area at the time of the defection.
The United Nations has provided these findings to North Korean officials and requested a formal meeting to discuss the results of their investigation and establish measures to prevent such instances from occurring again in the future. North Korean officials have yet to respond to the UN’s allegations.
The soldier, whose identity has not been disclosed, has since been through two rounds of surgery and received nearly three and a half gallons of donated blood via transfusion, but is said to be past the most dangerous stage of his recovery. The man was malnourished, and doctors found significant parasitic infections in his intestines, including what were presumed to be round worms measuring nearly 11 inches in length.
He regained consciousness on Tuesday, and reportedly asked to listen to South Korean radio. Hospital staff have hung a South Korean flag in his room to provide him with reassurance that he safely made it across the border, though medical staff say he remains too weak to withstand interrogation regarding the circumstances of his defection.
You can see the footage below:
Image courtesy of YouTube