UN Releases Footage of Tense Moment North Korean Soldier Flees Across Border

The U.N. has released video footage from Nov. 13 of a North Korean soldier racing across the border toward South Korea while being pursued by other North Korean soldiers with automatic weaponry.

The defector is shown racing in an dark olive-green jeep down a straight, tree-lined road across the replacement for the Bridge of No Return, which was used for prisoner exchanges during the Korean War.

North Korean soldiers sprint after the vehicle with weapons in their hands.

Right at the line that divides North from South, the defector crashes the jeep into a ditch. Seconds pass as he tries in vain to gun the vehicle out of the gully before leaping out and sprinting into the South. He kicks up leaves, ducking below a tree branch just as the North Korean soldiers skid into view.

One North Korean soldier drops into the leaves, and all four of them fire at the defector using handguns and AK-47 assault rifles — about 40 rounds, the South says.

Suddenly, two of the soldiers run away while the soldier in the leaves jumps up and runs across the dividing line into South Korean territory before turning on his heels and sprinting back to the northern side after his comrades. The defector falls unmoving into a pile of leaves.

Forty minutes later, infrared video shows two South Korean soldiers crawling on their hands and knees toward the fallen defector, who they grab and drag to safety.

The North and South Korean soldiers never exchanged fire during the incident; the bullets flew only one way.

South Korea is riveted by the successful defection, but North Korea is greatly embarassed by it and claims all defections are the result of rival Seoul kidnapping or enticing North Koreans. Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, has said nothing about the defection so far.

U.S. Col. Chad Carroll, a spokesman for the U.N. command, told reporters that North Korea's actions at the border violated the armistice agreement ending the Korean War because North Korean soldiers fired across and physically crossed the border in pursuit of the soldier. A U.N. Command statement said a meeting had been requested with the North’s military to discuss the violations.

After undergoing several life-saving surgeries, the defector is resting in a South Korean hospital and no longer relies on a breathing machine. Doctors say he is enjoying watching American movies and TV shows like Transformers, CSI, and Bruce Almighty, and listening to South Korean pop songs such as “Gee” by popular female band Girls’ Generation.

“His condition has become much better since yesterday. We’ve turned on the TV for him since yesterday,” doctor Lee Cook-jong told reporters.

“He said it was so painful when he was shot by bullets but that he doesn’t feel pain now,” he said.

While treating the wounds, surgeons also removed dozens of parasites from the soldier’s ruptured small intestine, including presumed roundworms that were as long as 27 centimeters (10.6 inches), which may reflect poor nutrition and health in North Korea’s military. The soldier is 1.7 meters (5 feet, 7 inches) tall but weighs just 60 kilograms (132 pounds).

About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly across the porous border with China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.