WATCH: North Korean defector regains consciousness, video shows getaway under fire

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This screengrab made from video footage released by the United Nations Command on Nov. 22, 2017 shows a North Korea defector driving along a road leading to the truce village of Panmunjom. Dramatic footage of a North Korean soldier’s defection released on Nov. 22 showed him racing across the border under fire from former comrades, and then being hauled to safety by South Korean troops. The defector, who ran across the border at the Panmunjom truce village on Nov. 13, was shot at least four times and has been recovering in a South Korean hospital. (AFP/United Nations Command (UNC))
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This screengrab made from video footage released by the United Nations Command on Nov. 22, 2017 shows a North Korea defector driving along a road leading to the truce village of Panmunjom. Dramatic footage of a North Korean soldier’s defection released on Nov. 22 showed him racing across the border under fire from former comrades, and then being hauled to safety by South Korean troops. The defector, who ran across the border at the Panmunjom truce village on Nov. 13, was shot at least four times and has been recovering in a South Korean hospital. (AFP/United Nations Command (UNC))
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This screengrab made from video footage released by the United Nations Command on Nov. 22, 2017 shows a North Korea defector running out from a vehicle at the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Dramatic footage of a North Korean soldier’s defection released on Nov. 22 showed him racing across the border under fire from former comrades, and then being hauled to safety by South Korean troops. The defector, who ran across the border at the Panmunjom truce village on Nov. 13, was shot at least four times and has been recovering in a South Korean hospital. (AFP/United Nations Command (UNC))
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This screengrab made from video footage released by the United Nations Command on Nov. 22, 2017 shows a North Korea soldier running across the military demarcation line (MDL) while in pursuit of a defector before returning to the north side of the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Dramatic footage of a North Korean soldier’s defection released on Nov. 22 showed him racing across the border under fire from former comrades, and then being hauled to safety by South Korean troops. The defector, who ran across the border at the Panmunjom truce village on Nov. 13, was shot at least four times and has been recovering in a South Korean hospital. (AFP/United Nations Command (UNC))
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This screengrab made from video footage released by the United Nations Command on Nov. 22, 2017 shows North Korea soldiers reacting to the news of a defection from Panmungok. Dramatic footage of a North Korean soldier’s defection released on Nov. 22 showed him racing across the border under fire from former comrades, and then being hauled to safety by South Korean troops. The defector, who ran across the border at the Panmunjom truce village on Nov. 13, was shot at least four times and has been recovering in a South Korean hospital. (AFP/United Nations Command (UNC))
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This screengrab made from video footage released by the United Nations Command on Nov. 22, 2017 shows North Korea soldiers gathering on the north side of the Joint Security Area of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) after the defection of a North Korean soldier. Dramatic footage of a North Korean soldier’s defection released on Nov. 22 showed him racing across the border under fire from former comrades, and then being hauled to safety by South Korean troops. The defector, who ran across the border at the Panmunjom truce village on Nov. 13, was shot at least four times and has been recovering in a South Korean hospital. (AFP/United Nations Command (UNC))
Updated 22 November 2017
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WATCH: North Korean defector regains consciousness, video shows getaway under fire

SEOUL: North Korean border guards were only steps behind a fellow North Korean soldier when they opened fire and one briefly crossed the border pursuing the wounded defector as he dashed to the South Korean side, a video released on Wednesday by the UN Command (UNC) in Seoul showed.
The defector was critically wounded, having been hit at least four times in the hail of bullets as he made his desperate escape on Nov.13. He was flown by a US military helicopter to a hospital in Suwon, south of Seoul.
Doctors announced on Wednesday that he had regained consciousness, having had two operations to extract the bullets, and his breathing was stable and unassisted.
“He is fine,” lead surgeon Lee Cook-Jong said at a press conference in Suwon. “He is not going to die.”
A UNC official said North Korea had been informed on Wednesday that it had violated the 1953 armistice agreement, which marked the cessation of hostilities in the Korean War.
The UNC official told a news conference that a soldier from the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) had crossed the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), the border between the two Koreas, for a few seconds as others fired shots at the defecting soldier.
“The key findings of the special investigation team are that the KPA violated the armistice agreement by one, firing weapons across the MDL, and two, by actually crossing the MDL temporarily,” Chad Carroll, Director of Public Affairs for the UNC, told reporters.
The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between North Korea and the international community over its nuclear weapons program, but Pyongyang has not publicly responded to the high-profile defection at the sensitive border.


Desperate Escape
The dramatic video begins with a lone 4x4 army jeep speeding along empty, tree-lined roads toward the border.
At one checkpoint, a North Korean guard marches impassively toward the approaching vehicle, but then runs in pursuit as it races by.
After passing a memorial to North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, where tourists often gather for tours of the Joint Security Area (JSA) inside the demilitarized zone, the jeep ran into a ditch just meters from the border with the South.
For several minutes the driver tried to try to free the vehicle, but the wheels spun uselessly in fallen leaves.
The driver finally abandoned the vehicle and sprinted for his life, pushing tree branches out of his way and sending leaves flying.
He scrambled up slightly rising ground to cross the border just seconds before at least four of the guards appear, their guns blazing as they ran.
One pursuing guard slid into a pile of dead leaves to open fire before running forward and appearing to briefly cross the dividing line between the two countries before turning around.
The video does not show the moment when the defector was hit, but he is seen lying motionless in a pile of brush next to a concrete wall in one of the later edited clips in the video.
Carroll said the position was still exposed to North Korean checkpoints across the border.
The allied troops operating the CCTV cameras that captured the incident had by then notified their commanders and a quick reaction force had assembled on the South Korean side of the border, according to Carroll, though the video did not show this force.
Infrared imagery shows two South Korean troops crawling through undergrowth to drag the wounded North Korean to safety, while the deputy commander of the border security unit oversees the rescue from a few meters away.

Long recovery
Doctors conducted a series of surgeries to remove four bullets from the critically wounded soldier, who arrived at the hospital having lost a large amount of blood.
The surgeon, Lee, gave the soldier’s age as 24 years, and identified him by the family name Oh. “From a medical point of view he was almost dead when he was first brought here,” Lee said.
Hospital officials said they believe the man will recover, though there were continued risks of infection and he remained in intensive care.
The soldier showed signs of depression and possible trauma, in addition to a serious case of parasites that has complicated his treatment, the hospital said in a statement.
Continuing stress made the soldier hesitant to talk, but he had been cooperative, doctors said.
The patient first recovered consciousness on Sunday, and asked where he was in South Korea, Lee said. He was in “agony” when he came to, the surgeon added.
Since then doctors have played South Korean pop music for him, and American action movies.
The surgeon said he believed the soldier left North Korea of his own volition, but did not offer any more insight into the man’s motivation for making the dangerous escape.
While on average more than 1,000 North Koreans defect to the South every year, most travel via China and it is unusual for a North Korean to cross the land border dividing the two Koreas, which have been in a technical state of war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
This incident marked the first time since 2007 that a North Korean soldier had defected across the JSA.
Now see the video footage released by the United Nations of the dramatic escape: 


US security chief in Moscow as nuclear treaty hangs in balance

Updated 46 min 43 sec ago
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US security chief in Moscow as nuclear treaty hangs in balance

  • John Bolton is expected to discuss Trump’s plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Putin
  • “It is the United States that is eroding the foundations and main elements of this pact” said Putin’s spokesman

MOSCOW: The Kremlin said on Monday that Washington’s withdrawal from a key Cold War-era nuclear treaty would make the world more dangerous, as Donald Trump’s national security adviser met senior Russian officials in Moscow.
John Bolton is expected to discuss Trump’s plan to jettison the three-decade-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
On Monday, Bolton discussed the fate of the treaty with Russian Security Council Chief Nikolai Patrushev and was expected to meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later in the day.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that ditching the treaty “will make the world more dangerous” and rejected US claims that Moscow has violated the pact, instead accusing Washington of doing so.
“It is the United States that is eroding the foundations and main elements of this pact” with its missile defense capabilities and drones, he said.
Lavrov said he was waiting to hear Bolton’s “official explanation” regarding Trump’s intentions, adding that for the moment the US side has not initiated the official procedure for exiting the treaty.
Trump on Saturday claimed that Russia had long violated the treaty, known as the INF.
“We’re the ones who have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement, but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement, so we’re going to terminate the agreement and we’re going to pull out,” he told reporters.
“Russia has violated the agreement. They’ve been violating it for many years,” he said.
“And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons (while) we’re not allowed to.”
Trump’s announcement raised global concerns, with the European Commission urging the US and Russia to pursue talks to preserve the treaty and China calling on Washington to “think twice.”
The Commission, the 28-nation European Union executive, stressed that the INF has been a mainstay of European defense for the last three decades.
“The US and the Russian Federation need to remain in a constructive dialogue to preserve this treaty and ensure it is fully and verifiably implemented,” spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic told reporters.
She said the agreement was important for both European and global security.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said a unilateral withdrawal from the treaty “will have a multitude of negative effects.”
Trump argued that the treaty does nothing to hold non-signatory China back from developing missiles, but Hua said that “it is completely wrong to bring up China when talking about withdrawal from the treaty.”
The treaty banning intermediate-range nuclear and conventional missiles was signed in 1987 by then US president Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader.
Gorbachev on Sunday said that “dropping these agreements... shows a lack of wisdom” and was a “mistake.”
The INF resolved a crisis over Soviet nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles targeting Western capitals.
The latest row between Russia and the United States comes ahead of what is expected to be a second summit between Trump and Putin this year.
Analysts have warned that the latest rift could have lamentable consequences and drag Russia into a new arms race.
The Trump administration has complained of Moscow’s deployment of Novator 9M729 missiles, which Washington says fall under the treaty’s ban on missiles that can travel distances of between 310 and 3,400 miles (500 and 5,500 kilometers).
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper said that Bolton himself is pressuring Trump to leave the INF and had blocked talks to extend the New Start treaty on strategic missiles set to expire in 2021.
US-Russia ties are under deep strain over accusations Moscow meddled in the 2016 US presidential election. The two countries are also at odds over Russian support for the Syrian government in the country’s civil war, and the conflict in Ukraine.
On Friday, the US Justice Department indicted the finance chief of Russia’s leading Internet troll farm for allegedly interfering with US congressional elections to be held in November.
Russia accused the United States of fabricating the charges.
Putin and Trump will both be in Paris on November 11 to attend commemorations marking 100 years since the end of World War I.