Trill! Magazine takes a keen interest in North Korea news, so naturally, we’re all over the amazing story of the North Korea defector. To recap, a NK soldier, known only by his family name Oh, successfully escapes across the DMZ into the South. He attempted to drive across an open part of the DMZ but had to finish it on foot. Four NK soldiers pursued him and shot him five times, but not before he made it into South Korea. While lying unconscious across the border, two SK soldiers took him away to safety. It sounds like something out of a movie, but it all happened. We can know this after the United Nations Command released a video on November 22 showing the incredible escape.
The tape consists of CCTV footage from several different angles. This shows viewers to see everything, from Oh driving toward the Joint Security Area to the NK guards regrouping after failing to capture him. It even concludes with infrared footage of the SK soldiers dragging Oh away from the border.
The inclusion of timestamps provides a concrete timeline of the afternoon’s events. The majority of the action unfolded between 3:11 PM and 3:17 PM (presumably in Korean Standard Time). Then the video jumps to 3:43 PM, showing Oh unconscious in a leaf pile near, fittingly, the Freedom House complex. It then skips again to 3:55 PM, revealing that the SK scouts only approached him almost forty minutes later. The BBC reported that they reached for him “without knowing if he was booby-trapped,” but it seems they still took their time to assess the situation.
What the Video Reveals About the North Korea Defector
The BBC also notes some surprising things one can gleam from the video about how the escape was even possible. Because the JSA is used as neutral ground to hold armistice talks, there are few barriers to stop people from crossing. Moreover, the NK soldiers seemed perplexed that something like this was even happening. Might be why NK’s government recently replaced almost all their border guards and started digging a ditch near the JSA.
This lack of barriers apparently comes with a lack of demarcation of the boundary. The video shows a NK soldier realizing that, while pursuing a border-crosser, he accidentally crossed the border himself. The video shows him immediately running back to his group. Meanwhile, analysts are also worried about another intrusion from them. UN Command discovered from close analysis of the footage that NK troops, aiming at Oh, fired bullets across the border. This counts as a violation of the armistice that stopped the Korean War. UN Command immediately contacted the Korean People’s Army for a meeting.
The events caught in the video may have geopolitical ramifications, but we can’t neglect the man at the story’s center. Oh, whom his lead surgeon describes as “a pretty nice guy,” is projected to survive. He still needs much recovery time from his gunshot wounds, plus diseases and intestinal worms from his life in NK. He also still has nightmares of being taken back to his old country. But it looks like Oh’s dramatic dash for freedom, now available for the whole world to see, will be worth it.
Even people who enter as tourists can be lucky to leave without issue. Here’s a story about a YouTuber caught illegally recording vlogs from North Korea.