N.Korean Soldier Flees Through Hail of Bullets

Saul Bowman
November 15, 2017

A North Korean soldier defected to the South by driving a military jeep to the line that divides the peninsula, then sprinting across it under a hail of gunfire from his former comrades, officials said Tuesday.

A soldier from the Korean People's Army (KPA) has defected to the South at Panmunjom, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said on Monday.

DiMaggio has held secret backchannel talks with North Korean officials four times over the past year, The Daily Telegraph reports, and has been a negotiator between the USA and North Korea for more than 20 years.

"They really want to know what is his end game", said DiMaggio, a scholar at New America who specializes in talking with rogue regimes and has spent almost two decades in secret discussions with the North Koreans. But it's rare for a North Korean soldier to defect via the Joint Security Area, where border guards of the rival Koreas stand facing each other just meters (feet) away, and be shot by fellow North Korean soldiers.

"He has at least six gunshot wounds on his body and the penetrating wound in the abdomen is the most serious", Lee Cook-Jong told reporters.


North Korean soldiers have occasionally defected to South Korea across the border.

The defection came less than a week after President Donald Trump made his first official visit to South Korea amid soaring tensions over the growing nuclear and missile threat from the North. The next 10 days will be crucial for his recovery, Lee was quoted as saying by the Yonhap News Agency.

He was shot in the shoulder and elbow and was taken to a South Korean hospital, the South's Defense Ministry said.

"The military has raised its alertness against the North Korean military's possible provocations and is maintaining its full readiness posture", the official said.

Suzanne DiMaggio, a director at the think tank New America, told Politico that North Korean officials are confused by the United States president's increasingly "erratic behaviour" and "really want to know what his end game is". His helicopter had to turn back because of bad weather. We urge the top brass to get to the bottom of the case involving North Korean soldiers shooting at a fleeing defector and come up with measures to prevent such a mishap in the future. In September the North carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test, of what it described as a hydrogen bomb.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER