A North Korean defector almost lost his life Monday when he reportedly bolted from a guard post near the Korean Demilitarized Zone and tried to make it into South Korea.
According to CBS News, his former comrades fired roughly 40 shots at him, hitting him at least five times and reportedly penetrating some internal organs.
Stunningly, the unnamed soldier survived and was found shortly thereafter under a pile of leaves on the southern side of the DMZ.
He was then transported to the Ajou University Medical Center near Seoul, where he underwent a five-hour operation but lived to see another day — and many more days to come, hopefully.
A doctor at the hospital, Lee Guk-jong, confirmed with CBS that the soldier’s condition was “very dangerous” and he was dependent on a breathing machine for the time being.
“Until this morning, we heard he had no consciousness and was unable to breathe on his own – but his life can be saved,” a military official named Suh Uk reportedly told lawmakers Tuesday, as noted by the BBC.
The doctor who spoke with CBS added that they’ll know within 10 or so days whether the soldier will be able to survive in the long-term.
To be clear, had the soldier not made it into South Korea, he’d already be dead by now. The North Korean regime, led by dictator Kim Jong Un, has zero tolerance for defectors.
As five North Korean refugees tried defecting in 2011, Kim’s border guards mercilessly shot them dead, The U.K. Independent reported at the time.
“South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported that border guards chased seven refugees across the river into China, before opening fire,” the Independent noted.
“Five of them died instantly under intensive gunfire by North Korean border guards who had run after them and the two others were wounded and taken to the North,” it quoted from South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo.
The two who were captured were likely then either tossed into a labor camp for life or killed.
As for the soldier who escaped Sunday, I sincerely hope he doesn’t have any living family members back in North Korea — because if he does, they could be in for a world of hurt.
As noted by Vice News two years ago, the rogue regime has been known “to threaten families of defectors with death and banishment.”
An estimated 30,000 North Koreans have fled the brutal nation since the Korean War, according to CBS.
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