NEWLY released footage shows North Korean border guards were in hot pursuit of a soldier who defected by crossing the border into South Korea on Nov 13.
As doctors announced on Wednesday the man had regained consciousness, the UN Command (UNC) in Seoul released CCTV footage of the anonymous soldier being shot at by North Korean border guards. His wounds showed he had been shot five or six times.
According to the UNC, North Korea violated the 1953 Armistice Agreement which in-effect ended the Korean War, reported South Korea’s news agency Yonhap.
One soldier from the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) crossed the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) for a few seconds during the pursuit, said Chad Carroll, Director of Public Affairs for the UNC.
“The key findings of the special investigation team are that the KPA violated the armistice agreement by one, firing weapons across the MDL, and two, by actually crossing the MDL temporarily,” Carroll told reporters on Wednesday.
The defecting soldier has had two operations to extract bullets after being flown by US army helicopter to a hospital in Suwon, south of the capital Seoul. Doctors who are treating him say he is now conscious and breathing.
“He is fine,” lead surgeon Lee Cook-Jong said at a press conference in Suwon. “He is not going to die.”
The dramatic video showed a military vehicle speeding toward the border, passing checkpoints manned by North Korean guards before appearing to get stuck in a ditch.
North Korean soldiers were only a few metres away when the defector jumped from the vehicle and fled on foot, scrambling up slightly rising ground to cross the border.
The video does not show the moment when the defector was hit, but he is seen lying motionless next to a concrete wall in one of the later edited clips in the video.
Three South Korean troops, including the deputy commander of the border security unit, are seen crawling through undergrowth to drag the wounded North Korean to safety.
Doctors conducted a series of surgeries on the critically wounded soldier, and now say they believe he will recover, despite continued risks of infection.
“Patient requires intensive care, detailed tests and observation as there is a chance his condition may worsen due to infections of his bullet wounds,” the hospital said in a statement.
The soldier show signs of depression and possible trauma, in addition to a serious case of parasites that has complicated his treatment, the hospital said.
Additional reporting from Reuters