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: 


Philippine president bolsters security, defense ties with Malaysia

Updated 4 min 22 sec ago
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Philippine president bolsters security, defense ties with Malaysia

  • Both Southeast Asian leaders have a dented human rights reputation globally although Mahathir has softened his strongman outlook
  • Piracy and armed robbery against ships remains an ongoing issue for leaders in Southeast Asia as oil and supplies worth billions are lost at sea each year

KUALA LUMPUR: President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reaffirmed to strengthen bilateral defense cooperation when they met for the first time in Putrajaya on Monday.

The meeting took place at the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office, where both strongmen “renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia.”

“President Duterte likewise renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level,” according to a statement from Duterte’s office.

The two neighbors have enjoyed a good relationship despite the change of government in Malaysia, as the over-60-year rule by the National Front coalition ended abruptly during Malaysia’s elections on May 9.

Both Southeast Asian leaders have a dented human rights reputation globally, although Mahathir has softened his strongman outlook since he was put in power for the second time in May.

The newly formed government led by the world’s oldest leader, Mahathir Mohamad, has vowed to restore the “rule of law” in Malaysia.

Duterte pointed out in his statement “the need to address terrorism and violent extremism in the region, as well as transnational crime such as piracy and armed robbery at sea and the illegal drug trade.”

Piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region remains an ongoing issue for leaders in Southeast Asia as oil and supplies worth billions are lost at sea each year.

Southeast Asia has become a hotbed for Daesh-inspired terrorist activities and threats, and Duterte and Mahathir reaffirmed the need to boost the security and defense ties of both nations in the Southeast Asia region.

Malaysia’s state of Sabah is facing kidnapping threats from the Mindanao-based Abu Sayyaf terrorist group.

In 2017, a large-scale kidnapping plan in Sabah and Central Philippines was uncovered by military intelligence.

The same year, Marawi was under siege from Daesh-inspired militants. The Philippines declared Marawi “liberated” from terrorism. The aftermath cost 1,000 lives with more than 350,000 people in the city displaced.

Meanwhile, Malaysia played an important role when it became the third-party broker of a long-awaited peace deal between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014.

“President Duterte expressed appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for the quest for the just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao,” his official statement said.

Both leaders stressed the need toward “working closely together bilaterally and at ASEAN” in a region of more than 500 million where “greater stability and security in the region” is of the utmost importance.

The two countries are quietly in a land-lock over an 1878 land lease agreement on Sabah since the Federation of Malaysia was officially formed in 1963. Nevertheless, the Philippines’ long-standing claims over Sabah were off the plate during the bilateral discussion between Duterte and Mahathir.

On Sunday night before the meeting, both strongmen enjoyed watching the fight between Philippines’ world-renowned boxer Manny Pacquiao and Argentina’s fighter Lucas Matthysse.