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 U.N. 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 U.S. 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.