N. Korean sol­dier braved hail of bul­lets to flee

The Witness - - NEWS -

SEOUL — A North Korean sol­dier is ex­pected to sur­vive crit­i­cal wounds he re­ceived when his old com­rades fired a hail of bul­lets at him as he made a de­fec­tion dash to South Korea, the South’s govern­ment and mil­i­tary said yes­ter­day.

The sol­dier had on Mon­day sped to­wards the bor­der in a “peace vil­lage” in the heav­ily guarded de­mil­i­tarised zone, in a four­wheel 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, head 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. Law­mak­ers 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 (JSA) in­side the de­mil­i­tarised zone be­tween the two Koreas. South Korean and U.S. 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 yes­ter­day, the South’s mil­i­tary said.

South Korean De­fence Min­is­ter Song Young­moo said it was the first time North Korean sol­diers had fired to­wards the South’s side of the JSA, prompt­ing com­plaints from some law­mak­ers that the South’s mil­i­tary should have re­turned fire.

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