N. Korean soldier braved hail of bullets to flee
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.