Video: North Korean Soldiers Shoot at Defector on Border, Violating Armistice

This combination of images made from Nov. 13, 2017, surveillance video released by the United Nations Command shows a North Korean soldier running from a jeep and then shot by North Korean soldiers in Panmunjom, North Korea, before collapsing across the border in South Korea. A North Korean soldier made …
United Nations Command via AP

The U.S. military released a compilation of video clips on Wednesday that showed the daring defection of a North Korean soldier on November 13, including a scene of North Korean troops opening fire on their former comrade in close proximity to South Korean territory.

The L.A. Times notes that the most dramatic scene begins at roughly two minutes and twenty-seven seconds, when the defector abandons the North Korean military truck he was driving and races for sanctuary in South Korea, while North Korean soldiers fire about 40 rounds at him.

Fortunately for the defector, it is not an impressive display of small-unit tactics or marksmanship. Although the North Korean forces appear comically inept in the video, the U.S. military and U.N. command said one of the North Koreans technically violated the armistice between North and South by crossing the line of demarcation and shooting inside the Demilitarized Zone. One of the North Korean border guards in the video can be seen stopping suddenly and turning around when he realizes he has gone too far. The North Korean government has been notified of the violation.

South Korean troops took no chances and cautiously approached the wounded defector as if they might be fired upon at any moment. They were also reportedly concerned he might be booby-trapped.

The rescued North Korean soldier “underwent surgery and treatment for parasitic worms” and regained consciousness on Tuesday, according to the L.A. Times.

Reuters reports he was shot four times during his escape. South Korean doctors say his injuries are not life-threatening, although they added he was in “agony” when he woke up. The Reuters report states that he is 24 years old, and his family name is Oh.

The BBC explains the footage comes from the Joint Security Area (JSA) in the village of Panmunjom, the only place on the 155-mile-long Demilitarized Zone where soldiers from North and South Korea face each other. Oh is the first soldier to defect through the JSA since 2007.

A notable detail seen in the video is that North Korean troops have begun carrying rifles inside the JSA even though they are only supposed to carry sidearms, prompting South Korean forces to equip themselves with heavier weapons as well.


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