North Korea 'Punishes' Border Troops Over Defection
North Korean troops who were unable to stop one of their colleagues defecting across the border on November 13 have been replaced. South Korean intelligence sources told Yonhap news agency that border security personnel at the Joint Security Area have been withdrawn after the most high-profile defection across the Demilitarised Zone in decades, Daily Telegraphreported.
Intelligence officials also believe that senior officers at the post "might have undergone punishment" for letting one of their subordinates escape. The officials added that the bridge on the North Korean side of the border that the defector crossed at high speed in a military vehicle has been closed, while additional screening procedures have been introduced for troops entering the JSA.
North Korea will certainly have been embarrassed at the footage that has emerged of the soldier's escape and the regime is likely to take measures to ensure that news of the defection does not spread.
Given the location of the incident and the fact that it involved a border guard - one of the regime's most trusted personnel - it is also likely to step up an ongoing campaign to stop foreign television footage being smuggled into the North on memory sticks and discs.
The United Nations Command has stated that North Korean troops clearly violated the 1953 Armistice Agreement twice during the incident. A North Korean guard crossed the Military Demarcation Line and around 30 shots were fired into the South.
The defector was hit five times and underwent emergency surgery after being airlifted to a civilian hospital in the city of Suwon, south of Seoul.
In a briefing to the media on Thursday, Dr Lee Kook-jong said the soldier has recovered sufficiently to be able to talk with hospital staff and is expected to be moved out of intensive care and into a regular ward at the weekend.
The defector has been identified by his surname, Oh, is 25 years old, and was in his eighth year as a conscript in the North Korean army.
He has told officials that he defected voluntarily after seeing South Korean television programmes and Hollywood movies, including "The Transporter" film series.
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