NoKor defector shot ‘5 times’
SEOUL (AP) — Four North Korean soldiers fired about 40 rounds at a comrade fleeing into South Korea and hit him five times in the first shooting at the jointly controlled area of the heavily fortified border in more than 30 years, the South’s military said yesterday.
South Korean soldiers did not fire their weapons, but Monday’s incident occurred at a time of high animosity over North Korea’s nuclear program.
The North has expressed intense anger over past highprofile defections. The soldier is being treated at a South Korean hospital after a fivehour operation for the gunshot wounds he suffered during his escape across the Joint Security Area.
His personal details and motive for defection are unknown and his exact medical condition is unclear.
South Korea’s military said he suffered injuries in his internal organs, but wasn’t in a life-threatening condition.
But the Ajou University Medical Center near Seoul said the soldier was relying on a breathing machine after the surgery removed the bullets.
Lee Guk-jong, a doctor who leads Ajou’s medical team for the soldier, described his pa- tient’s condition as “very dangerous” and said the next 10 days might determine whether he recovers.
On Monday, he first drove a military jeep but left the vehicle when one of its wheels fell into a ditch.
He then fled across the JSA, with fellow soldiers chasing and firing at him, South Korea’s military said, citing un- specified surveillance systems installed in the area.
Suh Wook, chief director of operations for the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that North Korea fired a total of about 40 rounds in a shooting that his office suggested started while the soldier was in the jeep.
The solider was found beneath a pile of leaves on the southern side of the JSA and South Korean troops crawled there to recover him.
A UN Command helicopter later transported him to the Ajou medical center, according to South Korean officials.
The North’s official media haven’t reported the case as of yesterday afternoon. They have previously accused South Korea of kidnapping or enticing North Koreans to defect.
A wounded North Korean soldier is rushed to a hospital in Gyeonggi province in South Korea on Monday.