North Korean Defector Had to Run After Issue With Jeep's Wheel

He was shot at least 5 times
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2017 3:19 AM CST
Updated Nov 14, 2017 6:41 AM CST
Defector Shot in DMZ Is in Critical Condition
South Korean army soldiers patrol along the barbed wire fence in Paju near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) of Panmunjom, South Korea.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

A North Korean soldier fired on by his former comrades during a desperate attempt to defect across the DMZ on Monday was shot at least five times but is expected to survive, South Korean authorities say. Officials say the soldier drove a jeep toward the Joint Security Area—the only portion of the DMZ where South and North Korean troops stand face-to-face—but was forced to make a run for it when a wheel came loose, the BBC reports; the AP describes one of the car's wheels as falling in a ditch. He "continued fleeing south across the line as he was fired upon by other soldiers from North Korea," according to the US-led United Nations command. South Korean troops crawled to rescue the man after he took cover behind a building on their side.

Military officials say the man was in critical condition Tuesday after surgery to remove five bullets. Doctors say he has injuries to his internal organs and may have another two bullets inside him but they believe his life can be saved. About 40 rounds were reportedly fired in total. This was the first shooting in the Joint Security Area since a Soviet citizen defected to the South Korean side in 1984. South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo told lawmakers Tuesday that this was the first time North Korean soldiers have fired into the southern sector of the JSA, marking a possible violation of the armistice agreement. (North Korea has accused the US of upping the threat of nuclear war.)

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