North Korea Hastily Fortifies Border Area To Prevent More Soldiers From Bolting


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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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North Korea has been busy lately fortifying the border area where one of its soldiers made a daring escape two weeks ago.

Young North Korean soldier surnamed Oh made a desperate dash in the Joint Security Area at the Demilitarized Zone earlier this month, slipping into South Korea amidst a hail of gunfire from his former comrades. He drove to the JSA in a jeep, but was forced to abandon the vehicle, making the rest of the trip on foot. North Korean border guards fired multiple rounds into the defector, but he managed to survive.

In the wake of this high-profile defection, North Korea has been tightening security at the border, according to The Korea Times.

The North has installed a traffic control gate along the main bridge to control entry into the JSA, replaced the original guards, distributed Type 73 machine guns to the new North Korean border guards (even though the possession of such weaponry in the JSA is an armistice violation), and dug a deep trench to prevent anyone from driving a vehicle through the area, as Oh tried to do before one of the jeep’s wheels got stuck in a ditch.

The North has also established a more secure checkpoint, presumably to verify the identities of any and all individuals who intend to enter the JSA.

North Korea has yet to publicly comment on the latest defection, one that could be seen as an embarrassment for the country. There are reports that senior military officials at the border have been recalled to Pyongyang for an investigation into the soldier’s escape.

Oh received medical treatment at Ajou University Hospital for gunshot wounds, as well as Hepatitis B, latent tuberculosis, infection, and roundworms. The soldier remained unconscious and in critical condition for days, but he is now awake and recovering in South Korea.

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