North Korean troops briefly traversed into South Korea while chasing one of their fellow soldiers who defected earlier this month, violating the truce that objective the Korean War, the U.S.-led United Nations command said Wednesday.
At a live TV briefing, the command released dramatic video demonstrating the unidentified soldier speeding down a tree-lined road past shocked North Korean soldiers, who begin to run after him. He crashes the jeep near the line that divides North and South in the so-called “truce village” of Panmunjom, where North and South Korean soldiers face one another at their closest distance only feet away.
Soldiers from the North sprint to the area, firing their weapons at the defector; one hastens across the dividing line before running back to the northern side. South Korean soldiers then crawl up to the defector, who has fallen injured in a mass of foliages against a small wall. They drag him to security as Northern korean troops gather on their side of the line.
Surprisingly, North and South Korean soldiers didn’t exchange flame in the first shooting in the field in more than three decades.
U.S. Army Col. Chad G. Carroll, a spokesman for the U.N. command, said the North infringed the truce by “one, firing weapons across the MDL, and two, by actually intersecting the MDL temporarily, ” referring to the military demarcation line that bisects the Koreas.
A U.N. Command statement said officials advised the North’s military of these violations and requested a session to discuss the investigation results and measures to prevent future such violations.
North Korea hasn’t responded and its official media haven’t reported on the instance. The North has previously accused South Korea of abduct or tempting North Koreans to defect. About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, largely via China, since the end of the 1950 -5 3 Korean War.
South Korea’s military has said North Korean soldiers utilized handguns and AK rifles to fire about 40 rounds at their former comrade, who was hit at the least five times.
The JSA, collectively overseen by the American-led U.N. Command and by North Korea, is inside the 2.5 -mile-wide Demilitarized Zone, which has been the de facto perimeter between the Koreas since the war.
Meanwhile, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that the North Korean soldier had regained consciousness after undergoing two surgeries at Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, south of Seoul. One South Korean official told Yonhap the soldier was able to talk to doctors and requested to watch television in his room.
The official added that the soldier was suffering from “fear and heavy stress” from his ordeal and was being treated with “psychotherapy.” A South Korean flag had “apparently” been placed in the soldier’s room in an attempt to improve his mental state.
Hospital official Shin Mi-jeong confirmed to the Associated Press that the soldier is conscious and is no longer relying on a breathing machine. While his condition is improving, doctors plan to keep him at the intensive care unit for at the least several more days to guard against possible infections.
While treating the wounds, surgeons removed dozens of parasites from the soldier’s ruptured small intestine, including presumed roundworms that were as long as 10.6 inches, which may reflect poor nutrition and health in North Korea’s military. The soldier is 5 feet, 7 inches tall but weighs merely 132 pounds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report .
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