The North Korean soldier who was shot multiple times making a desperate dash into South Korea at the Korean DMZ is reportedly the son of a ranking military officer, according to South Korean media.
“The soldier-defector is the son of a North Korean military police official with a rank equivalent to a South Korean lieutenant colonel,” a member of the South Korean parliamentary committee on national defense told a South Korean cable news outlet, according to The Korea Herald. The 24-year-old North Korean soldier Oh Chong-song, who sprinted into South Korea amidst a barrage of bullets at the Joint Security Area on the Korean border, was wearing a military uniform indicating a rank similar to a staff sergeant at the time of his defection.
It is unclear whether or not his father remains a ranking military officer. All border guards at the JSA were reportedly replaced, and the senior officers were taken to Pyongyang for questioning.
Oh drove to the border in a jeep but was forced to abandon the vehicle and continue his run on foot, his former North Korean comrades hot on his heels, firing around 40 rounds at the fleeing soldier trying to find his way to freedom. He was shot five times, but he made it, collapsing in a pile of leaves on the southern side. The soldier was rescued by South Korean troops and airlifted in a U.S. helicopter to a South Korean medical facility, where he had three surgeries to remove bullets, as well as combat parasites, infection, Hepatitis B, and tuberculosis.
The North Korean defector was unconscious for days and in critical condition, but he woke up last week and is recovering.
Oh has been watching American and South Korean movies and television, occasionally revealing tidbits about his life in the secretive North Korean state. He reportedly enjoys American crime dramas, such as “CSI.” He has also been enthusiastically listening to Korean pop (K-pop).
Military defections are rare, and defections at the JSA, where guards are often handpicked for their loyalty and family connections, are even more uncommon. Yet, Oh’s defection is the fourth military defection this year.
Watch: N. Korean Soldier Makes Mad Dash To Freedom
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