A North Korean soldier looked death in the face this Monday as he sprinted across the heavily fortified demilitarized zone separating his nation from the democratic South Korea. The soldier, who remains unnamed, made it to freedom, but not without two fresh bullet wounds to help remember the occasion.
One of nearly 30,000 defectors
The soldier made his run for freedom from his guard post at the northern side of the border-village Panmunjom, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. His run quickly attracted the attention of his former comrades in arms, who opened fire on the fugitive and hit him in both the elbow and shoulder. Despite these wounds, however, Fox News reported that he was taken to a nearby military hospital and his condition at this time remains unknown.
RELATED: Could North Korea Cause an EMP Strike via Satellite?
Roughly 30,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the end of the Korean War in 1953, but the vast majority of them take the much longer, but safer route through China. The DMZ, which is mostly made up of dense minefields, barbed wire, and machine gun nests, sees relatively few crossings, and those that do decide to test their luck there very rarely make it through.
A historic location
Panmunjom has been the scene of violence in the past, and in 1976 two US Army officers were killed there by a band of ax-wielding North Korean troops. That incident nearly sparked at full-blown armed conflict at the time but tensions were diffused without further bloodshed. Eight years later, in 1984, the village again witnessed an outbreak of hostilities when a Soviet citizen defected to the South side of the DMZ there. North Korean forces opened fire to stop him and were promptly fired upon by South Korean troops. In the ensuing exchange, three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean were killed.
Panmunjom was also the location where the armistice ending the bloody three-year conflict that left the Korean peninsula divided was signed on July 27, 1953. Since then, the once sleepy farming village has been transformed into a sprawling military base by both sides and is one of the only locations where North and South Korean soldiers stand nearly eye-to-eye with each other. Because of this close proximity between the soldiers, it is believed that the North Korean guards chosen to man their side of the border are hand picked by military officials for their loyalty, making this week’s defection all the more noteworthy, and possible telling of the deteriorating position inside Kim Jung Un’s nation.
(H/T: Fox News)
Do you think the defection might reveal more about what is happening within North Korea? Let us know your thoughts below!