Seoul, South Korea: A North Korean soldier races for the border in a jeep and then on foot before his former comrades shoot him at least five times as he limps into South Korea, where he collapses and is dragged to safety by southern soldiers on a dramatic video released by the U.S.-led U.N. command Wednesday.
The defection, subsequent surgeries and slow recovery of the soldier have riveted South Korea, but it will be a huge embarrassment for the North, which claims all defections are the result of rival Seoul kidnapping or enticing North Koreans to defect. Pyongyang has said nothing about the defection so far.
North Korea's actions during the defector's Nov. 13 escape at Panmunjom violated the armistice agreement ending the 1950-53 Korean War because North Korean soldiers fired across and physically crossed the border in pursuit of the soldier, U.S. Col. Chad G. Carroll, a spokesman for the U.N. command, told reporters in a live TV briefing.
The video shows the soldier speeding down a tree-lined road, headlights on, past dun-coloured fields and shocked North Korean soldiers who begin to run after him. He crashes the jeep into a ditch near the line that divides North and South and the blue huts familiar to anyone who's toured the area. It is the part of the border where North and South Korean soldiers face each other at their closest distance just meters (feet) apart. There were no tour groups at the time of the defection, Carroll said.
Soldiers from the North sprint to the area, firing handguns and AK rifles — about 40 rounds, the South says — at the defector; one hurries 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 leaves against a small wall. They drag him to safety as North Korean troops begin to gather on their side of the line.
Watch the video here