November 18, 2017
Latest News

North Korean soldier who defected to South in critical condition

Seoul, Nov 14 (efe-epa).- The soldier from North Korea who managed to defect to South and was shot by the North Korean army is in a critical condition due to the severity of his wounds, his doctor said Tuesday.

"(We) will have to ride out crucial moments (in his health) over the next 10 days," said Dr. Lee Guk-jong in a statement to Yonhap news agency, adding that vital organs have been affected and it is not known whether he will survive.

Seoul military authorities had initially reported that the soldier who defected Monday had gunshot wounds to his shoulder and elbow and was in a recovery phase following surgery.

The surgeon said that two or three operations might be necessary to save his life and that the soldier, who is unconscious and on a ventilator, will need to rest for two or three days before undergoing any more surgery.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday that the soldier reached the Joint Security Area (JSA) - the only border area where soldiers of the two Koreas stand face to face - in an SUV which he abandoned after one of its wheels got stuck in a drain.

When he ran to cross the Military Demarcation Line four North Korean soldiers fired about 40 shots at him several of which hit him. The Military Demarcation Line is effectively the border between the two countries.

The man, believed to be a private based on his uniform, sought shelter near a building in the southern strip of the JSA where he was found half an hour later by South Korean troops.

A helicopter transported him to Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, south of Seoul, where he underwent a five-hour operation.

It is rare for a defection to occur in the JSA, and experts say that North Korea carefully selects soldiers deployed in the area to avoid incidents like this.

The two Koreas remain technically at war, since the Korean War of 1950 to 1953 ended with a cease-fire rather than a peace treaty.

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