In a rare, and high risk incident, a soldier from North Korea attempted to defect to South Korea. The man was shot six times by the North Korean army as he raced to the formidable border.
The incident, which occurred on Monday, was reported by the U.S. led United Nations Command (UNC). The UNC monitors the Panmunjom border truce village where the defection occurred. According to reports, the soldier drove close to the heavily barricaded military demarcation line, which separates the two nations.
Commenting on the incident, a UNC spokesman stated that the soldier exited the vehicle and continued his panicked attempt on foot as he was fired upon by other soldiers from North Korea.
An official with the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the border guards fired at least 40 rounds on the defecting soldier. Miraculously, the soldier survived the bullet storm and continued to flee south of the border.
He was, however, seriously injured in the event. The soldier was airlifted to a hospital for emergency surgery. Doctors at the hospital stated that he had been shot at least six times, and had sustained serious injury in his stomach. The doctors added that the soldier’s organs were “extremely damaged” and they were unsure if he would survive.
Sources state that any defection at the truce village is quite rare. A treaty was signed at Panmunjom in 1953 after the Korean War. Since then, it has been the site of a number of inter-Korean talks. The village is primarily a popular tourist attraction, which is bisected by the demarcation line. However, it is the only part of the frontier where the two sides of Korea come face to face.