In a video circulating on the internet, North Korean soldiers are seen in pursuit of a defector crossing the border of a demilitarized zone and thus violating a decades-old treaty. The situation, confirmed by United Nations Command, has caused international anxieties about the tenuousness of the agreement.
According to The New York Times, North Korean soldiers fired at and severely injured a defector who was attempting to flee the country to South Korea through the 2.5 mile-wide DMZ. In doing so (and in their retreat), the soldiers violated the 1953 truce that ended the Korean War. The American-led United Nations Command will now hold discussions on how to prevent further violations in the future.
The defector was helicoptered to a South Korean hospital where he was treated for five gunshot wounds. Doctors also found his stomach to be infested with parasitic worms. Although his physical condition is currently in a perilous state, he is expected to survive. He is currently too weak to be debriefed on the situation, which remains in-flux.
"[U.N. Troops acted] in a manner that is consistent with the armistice agreement, namely — to respect the demilitarized zone and to take actions that deter a resumption of hostilities. The armistice agreement was challenged, but it remains in place," said Army General Vincent K. Brooks, an American who leads the United Nations Command.
The Times notes that upwards of 30,000 people have fled North Korea since their territory was hit with a devastating famine in the 1990s, although most have escaped through China. Rarely are attempts made at crossing the hostile, mine-laden DMZ.
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