The fate of the North Korean soldier who seriously injured by North Korean gunfire as he fled across the demilitarized zone into South Korea last week remains uncertain, but doctors may have already learned quite a bit about the state of the North Korean military through their attempts to save the life of the badly injured man.

The soldier had driven a military jeep into the Joint Security Area dividing North and South Korean territory, where according to reports, he was already taking fire from North Korean troops.  The soldier then fled the disabled vehicle and was hit by North Korean rounds five times as he scrambled into South Korean territory.  The defector collapsed some 55 yards past the border, where South Korea troops low crawled to his aid, removing him from the scene and loading him onto a UN Medevac for transport to a hospital near Seoul.

Once the North Korean soldier was brought in for life saving surgery, however, doctors discovered some horrific clues regarding that condition of North Korea’s military, and possibly, their populace at large.  The soldier’s unconscious body was riddled with parasitic worms; some reaching lengths as long as 11 inches.

In my 20 years as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a medical textbook,” said Dr. Lee Cook-jong, a lead surgeon.  According to the doctor, dozens of the worms were found inside the injured soldier’s intestines, adding, “It was a serious parasitic infection.”