Shot North Korean defector suffered massive internal injuries, undergoes second surgery: Surgeon

A woman looks through binoculars towards North Korea from a South Korean observation post in Paju near the Demilitarized Zone.
A woman looks through binoculars towards North Korea from a South Korean observation post in Paju near the Demilitarized Zone.PHOTO: AFP
A North Korean soldier is in critical conditon after fleeing to the South on Monday, despite being shot and wounded by the North Korean military.

SEOUL (REUTERS) – The North Korean soldier who was shot while defecting to South Korea on Monday (Nov 13) suffered massive internal damage, the surgeon leading his treatment said on Wednesday. 

“I’ve never seen such injuries outside of a textbook in more than 20 years of my career,” Lee Cook Jong, the surgeon in charge of the soldier, said at a media briefing.  The soldier was being operated upon for a second time on Wednesday, the hospital treating him said. 

The soldier, whose rank and identity have not been disclosed, was flown by helicopter to hospital on Monday after his escape to South Korea, during which he was fired on by four North Korean soldiers.

“He is undergoing a second round of operations and we can’t reach the operating room as they are working on him,” a spokeswoman at Ajou University Hospital told Reuters by telephone, seeking anonymity because of security concerns.

On Tuesday, government and military officials had said the soldier was in critical condition, following gunshot-induced trauma to his inner organs, but doctors expected him to live.

North Korea has remained silent on the issue, while no unusual activity has been detected at its border with the South where the soldier defected, the South’s Unification Ministry said.

“There will need to be some questioning on why he defected after his treatment is over,” ministry spokesman Baik Tae Hyun told a regular briefing.