SEOUL, South Korea – It's 3:11 p.m. on a cold, gray day on the North Korean side of the world's most heavily armed border, and a solitary soldier runs to freedom.
His olive-green jeep accelerates at full speed down a straight, tree-lined road, monotonous, barren fields, and bright beacons, through the replacement of the Return Bridge, which was used for prisoner exchanges during the Korean War . The commotion of the soldiers who observe the advance of the jeep is palpable from the video published on Wednesday, and it is not surprising: they are beginning to realize that one of their comrades is leaving the south.
The jeep slows down and turns into a monument to North Korea's founder, Kim Il Sung, the starting point for North Korean tours of the area.
The border is near, South Korea just behind.
Four North Korean soldiers, with weapons in their hands, compete for the blue cabins that straddle the line and are familiar to anyone who has traveled the only place on the border where the soldiers of North Korea and Korea South face a spitting distance between them. There are no tourists this day.
Just on the line that divides the North of the South, the defector crashes the jeep into a ditch. They spend a few seconds trying in vain to shoot the vehicle out of the ravine before jumping and running south. He kicks leaves, ducking under the branch of a tree just as the North Korean soldiers glide into view.
The muzzles flash. The North Korean soldiers, one of whom falls flat on the blades, shoot the defector at close range with pistols and badault rifles AK-47, about 40 bullets, says the south.
Suddenly, two of the North Koreans escape while the soldier in the leaves jumps and runs across the dividing line into the South Korean territory before stopping, turning on his heels and running back to the north side after his comrades . The deserter falls lying motionless in a pile of leaves against a small wall on the South Korean side.
The entire sequence, from the first appearance of the jeep to the frenetic crossing of the soldier, lasts four minutes.
was developed on November 13 in the Joint Security Area, which is overseen by the United Nations Command and North Korea and is located within the 2 1/2-mile wide Demilitarized Zone that has been the de facto border between the Koreas since the war.
Forty minutes later, the video has changed to infrared to show the heat signatures of two South Korean soldiers as they crawl on their hands and knees, using a wall as a cover, towards the prone deserter. They grab the deserter and drag him to a safe place. Not far away, heavily armed North Korean troops begin to gather near the monument to Kim Il Sung.
At the moment, the border is calm again.
Surprisingly, soldiers from North and South Korea did not exchange fire during the shooting, the first in the area in more than three decades. The bullets went in one direction only.
The desertion, the subsequent surgeries and the slow recovery of the soldier have trapped South Korea. But his escape is a great shame for the North, which claims that all desertions are the result of rival kidnappings of Seoul or of attracting the North Koreans. Pyongyang has not said anything about defection so far.
North Korean actions during the desertion flight in the border village of Panmunjom violated the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War because North Korean soldiers fired and physically crossed the border to pursue the soldier. The colonel of the USA UU., Chad Carroll, spokesman for the UN command, told reporters at a live television conference on Wednesday. A statement from the UN Command said a meeting had been requested with the military from the North to discuss the violations.
After undergoing two surgeries last week to repair damage to internal organs and other injuries, the soldier has regained consciousness and is no longer dependent on a breathing machine. His doctor said Wednesday that he enjoys watching American movies and shows like Transformers CSI and Bruce Almighty and listening to South Korean pop songs like "Gee" by the popular female band Girls & # 39; Generation.
"His condition has improved a lot since yesterday, we've turned on the television for him since yesterday," Dr. Lee Cook-jong told reporters.
"He said it was very painful when he was shot with bullets, but now he feels no pain," he said. .
Doctors plan to keep him in an intensive care unit for at least several more days to protect against possible infection, hospital official Shin Mi-jeong said.
While treating the wounds, surgeons earlier removed dozens of parasites from the rupture of the soldier's small intestine, including suspected round worms of up to 10.6 inches, which may reflect poor nutrition and health in the North Korean military. The soldier is 5 feet 7 inches but weighs only 132 pounds.
Around 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mainly through the porous border with China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Now add one more to that account: a man in uniform, fleeing the shots into a new life one cloudy afternoon across the most uncomfortable border in the world.