Three more North Korean defectors narrowly escaped to the South with their lives this week, in spite of Pyongyang’s shoot-to-kill policy for defectors at the border.
Two civilians used a “non-powered” fishing boat to propel themselves into South Korean territory Wednesday, according to an official from the Korean Unification Ministry. Seoul’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the two men were discovered by a naval patrol plane floating in the East Sea, where they were signaling to officers that they had defected from the Hermit Kingdom.
In an equally dangerous move, an apparently “low-ranking” soldier fled across the border from North Korea through the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and was sighted by South Korean soldiers lying in front of a guard post at around 8:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The soldier managed to evade North Korean guards, who were unable to locate him as he fled. The guards reported no unusual movement and this time fired no shots. However, the South Korean soldiers did fire warning shots as the enemy guards moved towards the DMZ to hunt for the defector, according to a Yonhap report Wednesday.
Around 40 minutes after South Korean soldiers fired the warning shots, several more gunshots could be heard from the North across the border, a local official told Yonhap. The news agency reported that Pyongyang is currently “investigating the soldier’s intentions”.
The latest escape comes just over a month after another North Korean soldier abandoned his guard post and drove his vehicle at high speed toward the border. The man — known only by his surname, Oh — dived out of his truck and sprinted to the nearest Southern building. Video footage shows the 24-year-old being chased and shot at by his comrades. Oh managed to make it to a small wall and collapsed into a pile of leaves after being shot in the back five times. South Korean troops then pulled him to safety as the Northern guards ceased fire.
Oh received emergency surgery at Ajou University Hospital in South Korea, where doctors found an “enormous number of parasites” infecting his body, including an 11-inch-long worm festering in his intestines. Reports of Oh’s poor digestive health gave the world greater insight into the appalling conditions in which many people in North Korea live. Even military personnel have virtually no access to the adequate tests and medication that would have killed the parasites infecting Oh’s body.