North Korean Soldier Shot While Defecting To South (Video)

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Footage shows a North Korean soldier's dramatic escape to South Korea (video below).

The soldier was shot at least five times by fellow North Korean soldiers on his way to cross the border on Nov. 13, where South Korean soldiers helped get him to safety, reports The Associated Press.

The incident took place at Panmunjom, within the 2 1/2-mile-wide Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea. The DMZ is well known for being among the most heavily fortified areas in the world, with troops and mines on both sides.

According to U.N. Command spokesman U.S. Col. Chad G. Carroll, the actions of the North Korean soldiers during the incident violated the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War, as the soldiers physically crossed and fired shots across the border with South Korea while trying to capture the defecting soldier.

The U.N. Command said in a statement that it had alerted North Korea's military about the violations of the armistice agreement and requested a meeting to prevent similar violations from happening in the future.

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The soldier is reported to be conscious and no longer reliant on a machine to breathe after undergoing two surgeries for his wounds, said Shin Mi-jeong, a hospital official. The soldier is expected to stay in the intensive care unit for at least a few more days to prevent potential infections.

Surgeons reportedly removed parasites including roundworms from the soldier's intestine during surgery, leading observers to speculate about poor health among North Korean troops. The 5-foot, 7-inch soldier weighed only 132 pounds.

The soldier is the fourth to defect from North Korea in the past three years, reports the BBC.

It's unclear how many defection attempts have ended unsuccessfully. If would-be defectors are caught by the North Korean military, they face long terms in labor camps.

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Most non-military people attempting to flee from North Korea to South Korea avoid the dangerous DMZ route. According to Seoul, over 30,000 North Koreans have left North Korea to come to the South since the Korean War ended; most make their way through China, which shares a border with North Korea.

Those who make their way to the South are first interrogated to weed out potential spies for the North; most go on to be admitted into a state resettlement program.

The number of North Koreans who have left the country to enter South Korea has reportedly dropped by around 13 percent in the past year, with 780 North Koreans fleeing to the South from January to August 2017, according to Seoul officials.

Sources: The Associated Press via WABC, BBC / Featured Image: John Pavelka/Flickr / Embedded Images: Chris Yunker/Flickr (2)

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