U.S., South Korean troops praised for rescuing North Korean defector
Three American and three South Korean soldiers were recognized by senior military leaders Thursday for their roles in rescuing a North Korean defector who was shot multiple times while fleeing the country last week.
Video footage of the defector’s daring escape, which shows him running across the border dividing the two countries while being pursued by North Korean soldiers, captured global attention when it was released Wednesday by the U. S. military command in South Korea.
Theman got to the South Korean side of the border before he collapsed fromhis wounds and was dragged to safety by U.S. and South Korean personnel.
“You were all in the range of North Korean fire,” Gen. Kim Byeongjoo, deputy commander of the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command, told the troops during a ceremony at Camp Bonifas. “It was a precarious situation . . . [and] a showcase of great leadership.”
The drama, unfolding Nov. 13, occurred as tension among the three countries has soared, with the threat of conflict driven by often volatile exchanges between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
In video footage of the escape, the defector is seen driving a jeep through the demilitarized zone, the strip of heavily protected land that has long separated the two nations. After his vehicle was stuck in a ditch, the man jumped out and fled south on foot as four North Korean soldiers gave chase and opened fire on him.
Hit at least five times, he collapsed on the South Korean side of the Joint Security Area, the only place where North and South Korean soldiers directly face each other.